Despite Michelle Duggar, Arkansas Town Approves LGBT Non-Discrimination Protections

Times they are a-changing is Fayetteville, Arkansas, despite Michelle Duggar's meddling.

From ThinkProgress:

"After repealing LGBT nondiscrimination protections last December by a vote of 52-48, voters changed their mind and voted 53-47 to approve them in a special election held Tuesday.

A statement from For Fayetteville, the campaign to approve the employment, housing, and public accommodation protections, praised the victory Tuesday evening. 'Fayetteville has affirmed its place as one of Arkansas’ most welcoming and business friendly communities,' the statement read, applauding the local business and faith communities that joined the new consensus.

To enforce the protections, the Uniform Civil Rights Protection ordinance creates a seven-member Civil Rights Commission to review complaints. Maximum fines for the first offense are $100.

Fayetteville has been the nexus of fights over LGBT protections and may continue to be so. Last year, Michelle Duggar infamously distributed a robocall supporting the repeal of the protections because transgender people would endanger 'the safety and innocence of a child.' Months later, after scandal struck her family with revelations about her son’s history of child molestation, she still defended her prejudices against transgender people as 'just common sense.'"

Read more»

State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and conservative groups argue that the ordinance goes against the Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act (Act 137), which prevents local towns and municipalities from passing non-discrimination protections that go beyond the state's own protections. Currently, Arkansas does not have any explicit state-level LGBT protections on the books. However, proponents of the ordinance contend that Arkansas does protect sexual orientation and gender identity in the form of an anti-bullying statute.

Regardless, this ordinance will have its day in court. Conservative group Protect Fayetteville filed a lawsuit last week using the Act 137 argument and claiming that the new rule violates freedom of religion and speech. Hopefully the proceedings will be Duggar-free.