Petitions submitted today to repeal Fayetteville civil rights ordinance | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Petitions submitted today to repeal Fayetteville civil rights ordinance

Posted By on Sat, Sep 20, 2014 at 3:37 PM

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A church-led group
seeking to repeal Fayetteville's new civil rights ordinance scheduled a news conference today to announce they'd collected more than 4,000 signatures necessary to call a special election on the ordinance.

I don't have their announcement yet, perhaps because their news release said in announcing the event, "Mainstream Media only."

The ordinance to discourage discrimination in housing and employment was passed after a monumental debate a month ago. It passed 6-2. Because the classes of people protected included gay people, conservatives went nuts and began the petition drive to protect those who want to be able to discriminate. The issue has arisen in races for city council and some candidates were to be on hand for the pro-discrimination news conference today. Mixed bathroom panic has been a leading tactic of the pro-discrimination group. Opponents of the ordinance contend it could provide cover somehow for a sexual predators who'd pretend to be another sex to enter a restroom or locker room. The argument makes no sense on inspection, or course. A predator could cross-dress for that purpose now.

The signatures still must be checked as those of Fayetteville voters.

A group to support the ordinance, Keep Fayetteville Fair, responded to the submission of signatures today to the city clerk:

All hardworking people – including those who are LGBT – should be treated fairly and equally by the laws of our city, and should have the opportunity to earn a living to provide for themselves and their families. Nobody should have to live in fear of being legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.

The Fayetteville that I believe in is a city of opportunity and freedom — where people who work hard and meet their responsibilities have the chance to get ahead. We are confident that the majority of Fayetteville residents believe in these basic values of opportunity and freedom.

The policies of the City of Fayetteville simply mirror those of the University of Arkansas, Wal-Mart and the majority of Fortune 500 companies. Employees should be judged on their qualifications, experience, and the job they do – nothing more, and nothing less.

Anne Shelley
Chair
Keep Fayetteville Fair

If sufficient signatures were gathered, a special election would be in December or January.  The Baptist preacher who's been a leader for repeal of the ordinance says it conflicts with his religious beliefs to protect homosexuals.

The city passed a "human dignity" ordinance in 1998 to protect gay city employees, but then-Mayor Fred Hannah vetoed it. The council overrode the veto but voters disapproved the ordinance. Backers of civil rights hope for better this time, particularly with support from Mayor Lioneld Jordan. He faces a likely elect challenge in 2016 from Justin Tennant, one of the two council members who opposed the ordinance. His father-in-law, Steve Clark, has been raising question about the ordinance as leader of the local chamber of commerce.

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