Wal-Mart is Growing a Conscience

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A state proposal in Arkansas which would prevent state and local governments from expanding anti-discrimination protections for gays and lesbians is being criticized publicly by Wal-Mart whose corporate headquarters are in Bentonville.

The pending bill, HB 1228 would bar cities and counties from expanding anti-discrimination protections to gays and lesbians because they supposedly create additional burdens on religious beliefs.

Wal-Mart includes sexual orientation and gender identity in its non-discrimination policy.

Susan McGalla knows that the bill follows a December cancellation of a Fayetteville, Arkansas ordinance that made discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. Human rights advocates are disturbed by any act that permits an individual to use religious beliefs to justify discriminatory behavior.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said that the bill would not change the way Wal-Mart treats its employees which is with respect for every individual.

Wal-Mart’s public opposition to this bill comes after its commitment to raise its lowest level wages to $9.00 per hour in April. It’s looking a lot like Wal-Mart is defending civil rights and improving conditions for workers. Wal-Mart critics may start feeling kind of warm and fuzzy toward this big box corporate behemoth one day, maybe soon.