Pulaski County Quorum Court passes protections for LGBT employees, requires contractors to do the same | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pulaski County Quorum Court passes protections for LGBT employees, requires contractors to do the same

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 8:48 PM

Pulaski County tonight became the latest in a small but growing list of local governments in Arkansas willing to take a stand for their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, with the Quorum Court voting to protect LGBT county workers from discrimination while requiring those who contract with the county to do the same. The vote was 10-5 in favor of the ordinance, with all five Republican JPs voting no. 

Little Rock, Conway and Hot Springs all have similar ordinances. On May 12, Eureka Springs voted overwhelmingly to retain their own, even broader LGBT protection ordinance, which prevents discrimination against LGBT people within the city limits, levying monetary fines for those who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. SB 202, which will become Act 137 in July, was meant to keep communities from codifying protections for LGBT people. As written, Act 137 forbids local governments from protecting any group not already included in the state's non-discrimination protections.

A drawn-out court challenge over Act 137 and the thriving crop of local ordinances is probably inevitable. For now, though, savor this moment if your heart yearns for all to breathe free and equal. A lot of LGBT Arkansans probably never thought they'd see anything like this in their lifetimes. 

Statement from Tippi McCullough, president of the Stonewall Democratic Caucus of Arkansas:

The Stonewall Democratic Caucus of Arkansas would like to thank the Pulaski County Quorum Court members for voting to pass a non-discrimination ordinance tonight. We would especially like to thank all the Justices of the Peace who voted yes and more specifically the JPs that sponsored the ordinance. We send out a special thank you to Justice of the Peace Tyler Denton for his leadership in helping Pulaski County be the first county in Arkansas to pass a non-discrimination ordinance. The momentum of equality continues to spread in Arkansas, the United States of America, and internationally. We are thrilled that Pulaski County will be on the right side of history with this historic and meaningful vote.

Statement from the Human Rights Campaign: 

In Win For Equality, Largest County in Arkansas Passes Employment Protections for County Workers

Today, HRC praised Pulaski County for passing much-needed non-discrimination protections that will protect county employees in the workplace. By a vote of 10-5, members of the Pulaski County Quorum Court enacted essential workplace protections that will prohibit discrimination against county employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as political or religious opinions or affiliations, race, age, sex, national origin, handicap, disability, genetic information or other non-merit factors. Non-discrimination provisions in city services and city contracting are also included in the ordinance. Pulaski County, which has more than 382,000 residents and is the largest in Arkansas, is the sixth municipality to take action protecting LGBT Arkansans since the passage of SB 202, a discriminatory law that will strip municipalities from local control in enacting non-discrimination ordinances this July. Similar measures have been enacted in Conway, Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Hot Springs. Eureka Springs is the only municipality in the state to successfully pass comprehensive LGBT protections not only for city workers, but for all residents of the city.

“Pulaski County’s leadership has sent a clear message to our state legislators in Little Rock: Arkansas is ready for equality,” said HRC Arkansas State Director Kendra R. Johnson. “Members of the Quorum Court are standing on the right side of history by extending necessary protections to all county employees, regardless of who they are or whom they love. Every Arkansan deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and HRC Arkansas will continue to work aggressively to achieve that goal.”

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