John M. Becker

Fayetteville, Arkansas Repeals LGBT Rights Ordinance

Filed By John M. Becker | December 10, 2014 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Anita Bryant, Arkansas, civil rights, Duggars, Fayetteville, gender identity, Michelle Duggar, non-discrimination ordinance, nondiscrimination ordinance, repeal, sexual orientation

arkansas.jpgLast night, the people of Fayetteville, Arkansas narrowly voted to repeal the city's historic LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance. The measure -- the first of its kind in the state -- was passed in August after hours of contentious debate and would have protected all Fayetteville citizens from discrimination in housing, employment, and other public accommodations.

Opponents prevented it from taking effect, gathering enough signatures to place it on the ballot in a special election. The final tally was 7,523 votes (52%) in favor of repeal, 7,040 (48%) against. Twenty-nine percent of registered voters participated.

NWA Online reports:

Alderman Matthew Petty, the ordinance's sponsor, said he was disappointed but not discouraged after results were announced at Fresco Cafe & Pub, where supporters of the group Keep Fayetteville Fair gathered.

"We believe that we were on the right side of history," Petty said. "And if we're going to win the hearts and minds of people on the other side of this issue, we need to remember that and remember that they're brothers and sisters of Fayetteville, too."

More, after the break.

The highest-profile opponents of the ordinance were the Duggars, the conservative Christian reality show stars best known for their prolific reproduction. The Duggars don't live in Fayetteville, but they ripped a page out of the Anita Bryant playbook and spent thousands of dollars on an ugly fear-mongering campaign to scuttle the measure.

duggar-kissing-facebook.jpgIn the run-up to the August vote, matriarch Michelle Duggar recorded a disgustingly transphobic robocall for the Arkansas Family Council in which she lied that the measure would "allow males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female" to use "womens' and girls' restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas, and other areas that are designated for females only."

But Mayor Lioneld Jordan, a strong supporter of the ordinance, vowed to fight on:

"This is the first round, but it won't be the last round," said Mayor Lioneld Jordan... "I would have liked to have seen it go differently, but that doesn't mean we can't go back and try something again eventually."

He added, "This was a vote of the people, and I respect that vote and we'll work with that."

Petty, the measure's sponsor, added that proponents of fairness in Fayetteville are "going to consider all options" going forward, including the possibility of introducing a revised version of the ordinance in a future session of the City Council.

And pro-equality organizers in Fayetteville aren't going anywhere either. In a statement posted to its website, the Keep Fayetteville Fair campaign is promising to "keep fighting for fairness" and reminding people that thousands of Fayetteville citizens support equal opportunity and access for all:

More than 7,000 people voted against the repeal and stood behind the idea that employees should be judged on their merits nothing more, nothing less...

"We have a very strong local volunteer and support team who worked hard to try to keep this ordinance in place," Anne-Garland Berry, campaign manager said. "Fayetteville is a city filled with inclusive, accepting citizens. Unfortunately, the repeal of this ordinance tells our visitors that we do not treat everyone with respect and only allocate freedoms to certain groups of people."

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