LITTLE ROCK, Ark., April 1 (UPI) -- Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he won't sign a controversial religious freedom bill as it sits on his desk right now, instead asking state legislators to rework it until it more closely resembles the federal version passed in 1993.
The first-term Republican said he wants Arkansas"to be known as a state that does not discriminate but understands tolerance." He wants the state bill to "precisely mirror the federal law."
The governor said his own son, Seth, asked him to veto the bill, which allows businesses to deny services base on religious beliefs. Many fear it will open the door to discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
"This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial," he said during a news conference. "But these are not ordinary times."
Hutchinson decision comes after Indiana lawmakers passes a similar bill, amid an uproar from business and people nationwide, including Apple CEO Tim Cook. Arkansas-based Walmart said the legislation "threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion."
With the divisive same-sex marriage issue set to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in late April, the clash between social conservatives and gay-rights advocates is reaching a boiling point. Advocates of the religious freedom bill say Arkansas and Indiana have simply put laws into place that mimic federal law and are in place in 19 other states.
Meanwhile, Hutchinson said he is considering an executive order that bans discrimination among the state's workers.
"The issue has become divisive because our nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture with the traditions and firmly held religious convictions," Hutchinson said. "It has divided families, and there is clearly a generational gap on this issue."