Keep Fayetteville Fair blasts chamber on civil rights ordinance stance | Arkansas Blog

Friday, November 7, 2014

Keep Fayetteville Fair blasts chamber on civil rights ordinance stance

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 9:49 AM

click to enlarge BACKS ORDINANCE: Screen shot of webpage for group working to keep Fayetteville's new civil rights ordinance.
  • BACKS ORDINANCE: Screen shot of webpage for group working to keep Fayetteville's new civil rights ordinance.

Keep Fayetteville Fair
, the group formed to defend the civil rights ordinance passed by the Fayetteville City Council, today blasted the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce for its opposition, which we reported yesterday.

The ordinance provides recourse for employment and housing discrimination for a number of classes of people, but the inclusion of protection for LGBT people is the source of chamber unhappiness and that of the church groups and others that led a petition drive to refer the ordinance to voters. A special election is set Dec. 9.

Said Keep Fayetteville Fair:

.. The repeal is out of step with the majority of Fortune 500 companies in the United States. Keep Fayetteville Fair is advocating against the repeal. The group believes everyone needs to earn a living and that employees should be judged on their qualifications and experience – nothing more, nothing less.

Keep Fayetteville Fair supporters believe no one should be fired from their job, denied housing, or kicked out of a restaurant simply because of their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

“Ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies have inclusive non-discrimination policies because they know it helps attract and retain the best talent,” Anne Shelley, spokesperson for Keep Fayetteville Fair said. “Companies across the United States, a great number of which operate here in Arkansas, including Walmart, have embraced anti-discrimination protections and have encountered no problems.”

Keep Fayetteville Fair believes a vote against the repeal will allow our city to uphold our values and faith, which teaches us we’re all God’s children and that everyone should be treated with respect. The supporters of Keep Fayetteville Fair believe all folks who work hard, pay their taxes, serve in our military, and contribute to our community deserve to be treated fairly under law, including our gay and transgender neighbors.

"It's simple: fairness is good for business,” Hannah Withers, founder of Block Street Business Association said. “We need to keep Fayetteville competitive. That's why business across the country from Walmart to Regions Bank have adopted similar policies. They recognize fairness is good for business."

The group's website has more information.

We reported and listed all Fayetteville Chamber board members yesterday. They reportedly voted unanimously in opposition. That must mean the vote didn't include "ex officio" board members, because they include Mayor Lioneld Jordan, a leading advocate of the ordinance. Those  ex officio members also include G. David Gearhart, chancellor of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, which has an official non-discrimination policy on sexual orientation. I've asked the university if Gearhart wants to associate or disassociate himself from the action of the board on which he's listed as a member.

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