Sen. David Burnett (D-Osceola) said he made a mistake in voting for a bill that would allow legal discrimination against gay people in a Senate committee, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported today. He voted against the bill in the full Senate yesterday.
Burnett said when he listened to the debate, he decided HB 1228 was unconstitutional.
Burnett provided the decisive fifth vote to advance HB 1228 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. With four of the the eight seats in the committee held by Democrats, Judiciary is one of the few committees Democrats can influence if they vote en masse. A bill requires five votes to advance.
Burnett voted against the bill the first time it came through committee, but changed his vote on Tuesday. He told the D-G he didn’t have “any original reasons” for advancing the bill, though he did admit that Gov. Asa Hutchinson had asked him to vote for the bill and he had asked the governor to appoint Jo Ann Henton to the Mississippi County Quorum Court, but there was no “quid pro quo.”
You’d hope not. A Quorum Court position in exchange for legalized discrimination? Meanwhile, Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis told the D-G the governor hadn’t decided who to put in the Quorum Court position, but it probably won’t be Henton.
Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R*-Little Rock), the governor’s nephew, was the lone Republican voting against HB 1228. Like Burnett, he changed his vote after advancing the bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
After the vote, he invoked Jesus’ teachings to the AP.
“I think there are instances where religious activities are over-regulated, but in my estimation that does not outweigh the chance that somebody uses religion to do what Jesus would not want to be done in his name, which is to discriminate against somebody and offend a brother or sister.”
*A previous version of this post incorrectly described Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson as a Democrat. He’s a Republican.