While SB43 is not fully defeated, efforts to fight back against attempts to target LGBTQ Arkansans are working. Yesterday’s amendment to the bill no longer explicitly targets LGBTQ people. However, it does apply to every person in Arkansas in overly broad ways that clearly violate the First Amendment.
SB43 still curbs free speech and expression so much that it could even prevent some mainstream artists from performing on public property, and make it illegal for Arkansans to attend those performances. It still inherently invites abuse in enforcement, especially considering the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from sponsors and supporters of the bill.
We will continue to be vigilant in our fight for free speech and expression, and we will do everything in our power to protect the rights of all Arkansans. Violating the First Amendment rights of all people is not an acceptable proposal to substitute for the targeting of some Arkansans.
All Arkansans are harmed by laws that target, oppress or divide us, and lawmakers should oppose these divisive efforts as well as affirmatively ensure civil liberties protections for every Arkansan. SB43 and other bills like it already have harmed Arkansans, and the legislature should pass civil rights protections for LGBTQ Arkansans to make up for that harm.
“These bills are morality policing, coming out of all too familiar blueprints,” said Sarah Everett, policy director for the ACLU of Arkansas. “Whether it is targeting any person for simply being who we are or banning books, the Constitution is in place to protect us from these sweeping attacks on Americans’ individual freedoms and equal protection under the law. It is a shame we have to be so vigilant at every turn but that’s 2023 in Arkansas and America.”