Wal-Mart opposes Arkansas 'conscience protection' measure critics cast as anti-LGBT

Wal-Mart says it opposes a "conscience protection" bill in the retail giant's home state of Arkansas that critics say would sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians.

A spokesman for the Bentonville-based company said Tuesday it opposes the bill pending before a Senate panel that would prohibit state and local governments from imposing a "substantial burden" on someone's religious beliefs. The company said the legislation sends the wrong message about Arkansas.

The statement comes a day after Wal-Mart criticized for identical reasons a measure barring local governments from expanding anti-discrimination ordinances to include sexual orientation or gender identity. Gov. Asa Hutchinson allowed that measure to become law without his signature.

Opponents of both measures had waged intense social media campaigns urging Wal-Mart to speak out against the legislation.