Schwarzenegger: Religious freedom laws 'distracting and divisive' for GOP
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Religious freedom laws like those in Indiana and Arkansas will hurt the Republican Party, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) warned in a Friday Washington Post op-ed.

Schwarzenegger called the laws "distracting and divisive" and said focusing on such measures would prevent Republicans from attracting younger voters.

He said his op-ed was directed at those "Republicans who choose the politics of division over policies that improve the lives of all of us. It is for Republicans who have decided to neglect the next generation of voters.”

“If we want our party to grow and last, we must be focused on real solutions to problems Americans are facing,” he added.

The laws in Indiana and Arkansas sparked a national firestorm. Supporters say the laws, intended to mirror the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allow business owners to make faith-based decisions, but critics say they provide cover for discrimination against gay people.

Schwarzenegger said he was writing from experience, noting that California Republicans had seen their share of the electorate fall in recent years.

“That sharp drop started just after the divisive battle over Proposition 8,” Schwarzenegger wrote, referring to the state measure banning same-sex marriage.

“Maybe that’s a coincidence, but there is no question that our party is losing touch with our voters, especially with the younger ones who are growing the registration rolls.”

He also cited the opposition to the Indiana measure on social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit as evidence young people were split from Republicans on the issue.

The movie star and former governor’s comments come at the end of a week where the laws dominated national debate.

Last Sunday, Indiana Gov. Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump, Pence offer condolences to families of Missouri boat tour victims GOP to hold 2020 convention in Charlotte Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE (R) appeared on ABC’s “This Week” to defend the measure. By Tuesday, as major businesses cried foul on the law, he said that state lawmakers should add a provision clarifying that the law did not allow businesses to deny service to the LGBT community. He signed the legislative fix on Thursday.

In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) asked lawmakers to recall a similar bill so that its language could be brought into alignment with the federal law, signed by then-President Clinton in 1993. He also signed new legislation into law on Thursday.

Critics of the laws say that the states should go further, by passing legislation that specifically protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.