Hutchinson, a Republican, had said that he planned to sign the bill. But he announced at a press conference in Little Rock that he wanted the bill to mirror a federal religious freedom law.

At least 19 other states and the federal government have religious freedom laws, but legal experts have said that the Arkansas bill has broader language that could give businesses more leeway to discriminate.

Among those urging the governor to veto the bill was Walmart, which has headquarters in Bentonville and employs more people than any other company in the United States.