Update: This blog post has been updated with additional bills as the anti-LGBTQ onslaught has continued.
We shouldn't have to remind our state legislators that discrimination is wrong, but apparently, this session, we do.
The Arkansas Legislature is considering a bill that would condone discrimination and allow people to be denied health care for a whole host of reasons, including on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Senate Bill 289 would allow any medical provider to refuse to provide life-saving health services purely on the basis of conscience. This would mean insurance companies, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and anyone working in or for the medical field could use the pretext of their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBTQ people – or anyone whose identity or personal choices don't comport with their views.
Religious liberty is a fundamental freedom – but it doesn't give anyone the right to discriminate against people for who they are.
Worse still, Senate Bill 289 isn't the only way state legislators are threatening the civil rights and human dignity of LGBTQ people.
They've proposed constitutional amendments that would target transgender students (SJR 16) and condone discrimination on the basis of religion (SJR 14 and HJR 1024), and a bill that would create a morals test to obtain professional licenses (HB 1465). Another bill, SB 354, would exclude transgender girls and women from athletics, while HB 1570 would prohibit doctors from providing medically necessarily care for transgender youth.
We can't let this happen.
Now is the time to make our voices heard loud and clear that every Arkansan has the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination or harassment.