Vote on LGBT civil rights ordinance tonight in Fayetteville | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vote on LGBT civil rights ordinance tonight in Fayetteville

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 11:12 AM

A city ordinance to extend work, housing and public accommodation protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity will be up for a vote at the Fayetteville City Council this evening at 5:30. If passed, the nondiscrimination measure would still require the approval of voters in a special election on September 8. 

An earlier version of the ordinance passed the Council 6-2, but was repealed by voters 52-48 (the vote was marked by confusion over the phrasing on the ballot). The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce supports this version of the ordinance after objecting to the previous version. The new version is similar in impact, but is shorter and clearer, according to supporters, modeled after similar state and federal laws. 

The last council meeting taking up this issue went on for hours and hours and hours, and featured all manner of mixed-bathroom panic and a state representative from Springdale exasperated at the failure of people to understand the obvious truth that transgender people are just like people who believe that they are dogs. 

Mayor Lioneld Jordan is anticipating a similar interminable discussion this evening and the Fayetteville Flyer reports on rules the mayor has established for tonight's meeting: 

1. Citizens of Fayetteville will be allowed to speak first.
2. Participants must give their name and address at the microphone.
3. Each person will have one turn at the microphone unless asked to return by a council member.
4. There will be a three-minute maximum length of time; Chief of Staff Don Marr will run the timer.
5. All remarks must be directed to Mayor Lioneld Jordan; no remarks may be directed to aldermen and no personal attacks will be allowed.
6. All will behave in a respectful and courteous manner.

If passed, the ordinance, like a similar ordinance in Eureka Springs passed last month, poses a potential legal challenge to Act 137, the state law passed earlier this year that prevents city and county governments from adding protected classes to civil rights law (Act 137 goes into effect on July 22). Meanwhile, Act 975, the highly controversial so-called "religious conscience" bill pushed by Rep. Bob Ballinger, potentially protects the right to discriminate against LGBT people under the pretext of religion as a matter of state law. 

Fayetteville City Council meetings can be viewed on the city's website.

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