The Arkansas legislature passed SB 202 a couple weeks ago and Gov. Asa Hutchinson, lacking the courage to either sign it or veto it, let it become law without his signature after ten days. That law forbids all municipalities in the state from passing any law that protects LGBT people from discrimination.
The bill passed the legislature 10 days ago. Hutchinson said he would allow it to become law. During the past week, pressure had been mounting on the governor to change his mind.
Five days ago, the Arkansas chapter of the Human Rights Campaign released a statement condemning the bill. “Discrimination is not an Arkansas value, and the Governor should take swift, immediate action to veto SB202,” said chapter director Kendra R. Johnson.
On Saturday, national groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights joined in asking Hutchinson to veto it.
“There is nothing but discriminatory intent here,” the groups’ press release reads. “And no valid public interest can possibly be served by allowing private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristics that might be covered by local ordinances.”
All of this is true but mostly irrelevant. Once a municipality files suit challenging this law, a federal district court will issue a preliminary injunction immediately. Why? Because the Supreme Court already ruled on a virtually identical law in Colorado in a case called Romer v Evans, a 1996 case in which Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. This law will never actually be enforced.