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Voters In Fayetteville, Arkansas, Repeal LGBT Protections, But Mayor Says 'It Won't Be The Last Round': VIDEO

Arkansas

Voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas, narrowly repealed an ordinance banning anti-LGBT discrimination on Tuesday.  

The final tally was 7,523 votes in favor of repealing the ordinance, or 52 percent, to 7,040 votes against repeal, or 48 percent. 

Turnout was high for a special election, at 29 percent or 14,600 votes. That's compared to 21,457 Fayetteville residents who cast ballots in the Nov. 4 general election. 

The City Council approved the ordinance in August after 10 hours of debate, but opponents gathered enough signatures to place it on the ballot. Fayetteville would have been the first city in Arkansas to ban anti-LGBT discrimination. 

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." ... 

Petty said Tuesday night it's too soon to tell if the City Council will consider a revised version of a similar ordinance.

"We're going to consider all options," he said.

"This is the first round, but it won't be the last round," said Mayor Lioneld Jordan, who has publicly endorsed the ordinance. "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."

Despite the setback, there were signs of progress in the results. Sixteen years ago, when Fayetteville voters repealed an ordinance protecting only gay city employees — the margin was 58 percent to 42 percent. The ordinance voted on Tuesday was much broader in its scope, applying citywide and including transgender protections.  

Kendra Johnson, a representative from the Human Rights Campaign in Arkansas, issued the following statement:  

"Tonight's vote is a deeply disappointing reminder that equality doesn't always move forward in a straight line. Make no mistake about it, tonight's election results—and the repeal of this ordinance — will inflict direct harm on LGBT Arkansans, their families and their friends. But we remain convinced that the progress of fairness will continue despite this result. All Arkansans should have the legal right to live safely within their communities, homes and workplaces, and the day will come soon when LGBT young people will wake up in this state and enjoy true equality under the law. We'll keep up the fight until that dream is achieved.”

Opposition to the ordinance was led by the likes of reality TV star Josh Duggar, as well as several Republican members of the Arkansas Legislature, who threatened to overturn the measure anyway if it was upheld by voters. 

Here's how they reacted on Twitter:

Watch KFSM-TV's report on the results, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Voters In Fayetteville, Arkansas, Repeal LGBT Protections, But Mayor Says 'It Won't Be The Last Round': VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Bigots Try To Link Fayetteville Equal Rights Ordinance To HRC Co-Founder Terry Bean: VIDEO

  Fayetteville

Opponents of an LGBT equal rights ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas, are attempting to link the law to Terry Bean, the co-founder of the Human Rights Campaign who was arrested last month on charges of sexual abuse of a minor. 

Voters in Fayetteville will decide today whether to repeal Ordinance 119, which the City Council passed 6-2 in August following more than 10 hours of debate. 

During a meeting at the Fayetteville Prayer Room on Sunday, a speaker opposed to the ordinance claimed it wasn't conceived locally. 

"The law was conceived in the mind of a man named Terry Bean, who lives in Portland, Oregon, and he started these kinds of laws in 1978, and he's been crafting and perfecting it over the years," the speaker said. 

But it's not just religious leaders at prayer meetings who are pushing the ridiculous Terry Bean narrative. Republican state Sen. Bart Hester made similar comments on Sunday on KFSM-TV, where he debated the ordinance with Fayetteville Alderman Matthew Petty. Here's a transcript: 

NdoBart Hester: It think what’s interesting about this is that Alderman Petty got this ordinance from a Washington D.C. firm called the Human Rights Coalition [sic]. And the founder of the Human Rights Coalition is currently facing charges for sodomizing and raping a 15-year-old boy. That’s the foundation of this bill, it is not American, and we won’t stand for it in Arkansas.

Matthew Petty: That’s not true, either. I’ve never met – what was his name?

Larry Henry: Terry Bean?

Matthew Petty: Yes, Terry Bean. I’ve never met him and had never even heard of him until this was brought up by the opposition last week.

Bart Hester: He’s the founder of the people that wrote your bill.

Matthew Petty: They didn’t write the bill, first off. All they did was provide a couple of copies of ordinances from other cities that had passed similar things. We wrote the bill at the city attorney’s office. It took us four weeks to do it, and by the way, I’ve been considering this since 2009 and that’s going on six years ago. So this has been a long time in the making. This is a local bill from local people. We’ve had $37,000 worth of donations from Arkansans – most of those from Fayetteville – and the same goes with volunteer hours. This is a local campaign that was started by locals, and it’s going to be finished by locals. And that’s the end of the story on that I think.

Sen. Hester previously threatened to cut funding for the University of Arkansas after the school's chancellor made comments in support of the equal rights ordinance. Interestingly, the university has canceled a shuttle bus that was planned to take students to the pollls today, a decision which The Arkansas Times links to opposition to the equal rights ordinance among legislators like Hester: 

The administration will not risk riling the legislators further. It knows that legislators know that college students are less likely to favor legal discrimination against gay people. They don't want to help them vote. The UA bosses know who butter their bread (though you'd think student tuition and fees counted, too.)

Watch video of the comments by the speaker at the Fayetteville Prayer Room and Hester, AFTER THE JUMP...   

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Bigots Try To Link Fayetteville Equal Rights Ordinance To HRC Co-Founder Terry Bean: VIDEO" »


Federal Judge Strikes Down Arkansas' Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d08173af970c-800wiA federal judge has struck down Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage, the AP reports:

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ruled in favor of two same-sex couples who had challenged a 2004 constitutional amendment and earlier state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, arguing that the ban violated the U.S. Constitution and discriminated based on sexual orientation.

But Baker put her ruling on hold, and the state is expected to appeal it to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in St. Louis.

Baker wrote in her ruling that the state's marriage laws violate the U.S. Constitution by "precluding same-sex couples from exercising their fundamental right to marry in Arkansas, by not recognizing valid same-sex marriages from other states, and by discriminating on the basis of gender."

Arkansas' State Supreme Court is also currently considering a challenge to the state's same-sex marriage ban. The justices will decide whether to uphold Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling which struck down the Natural State's marriage ban or to find in favor of the state and reverse that decision. Piazza's ruling made it possible for 541 same-sex couples to say "I do" earlier this year until the state Supreme Court intervened and ordered the marriages to cease until it could review the matter.

There is no comment on this latest ruling from Arkansas' Attorney General Dustin McDaniels (D) who has previously stated that he will defend the state's ban despite his personal support for marriage equality.

READ the ruling below:

4:13-cv-00410 #40 Arkansas Federal Decision by Equality Case Files

Developing...


Gay Marriage Opponents Rally Outside Arkansas Supreme Court On Eve Of Hearing: VIDEO

Duggar.Josh

Arkansas will get a double-dose of the same-sex marriage fight on Thursday, with judges scheduled to hear arguments in two separate lawsuits challenging the state's marriage ban.

In May, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down Arkansas' marriage ban as unconstitutional in Wright v. Arkansas. About 500 same-sex couples married before the state Supreme Court finally stayed Piazza's decision. At 9 a.m. CDT on Thursday, the high court will hear arguments in the state's appeal of the May ruling.

Then, at 1:30 p.m. CDT, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker will hear arguments on motions from both sides in a federal lawsuit challenging the marriage ban, Jernigan v. Crane. Same-sex couples are asking Baker to immediately strike down the ban, while the state is asking her to dismiss the suit. 

On the eve of the hearings, hundreds gathered on the steps of the Arkansas Supreme Court building Wednesday to call on the justices to uphold the marriage ban and "honor [the] vote" of people who approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004.

Among those who spoke at the rally was Josh Duggar, executive director of Family Research Council Action and a star of the TLC reality series 19 Kids and Counting, according to Arkansas Online.

“There is an agenda to silence us, to silence those of us who believe in what is right, those of us who have these deeply held convictions," Duggar told the crowd. "Let me tell you, they're taking away your right to speak. And I call on the Arkansas Supreme Court to stand with the people and to honor their vote."

The rally was organized by the Arkansas Family Council, whose executive directory, Jerry Cox, said it focused on the state Supreme Court because its justices are elected.

Arkansas supreme courtIn August, plaintiffs in Wright v. Arkansas filed a motion asking Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves if they are up for re-election, after conservative state lawmakers threatened retaliation against those who side with marriage equality. But that motion was rejected. 

Cox reiterated those threats on Wednesday, according to Arkansas News.

“It’s because the judges are way out of line, and the people know that,” he said. 

"Every time the people have had the chance to vote on marriage, almost every time, they define it as the union of a man and a woman," Cox told Arkansas Online. "But when the courts get involved, it's almost like referees running onto the field saying, 'Let's change the score, we don't like the outcome.'"

Also attending the rally were a few dozen supporters of marriage equality. One carried a sign that said, "Charles Manson has the right to marry and gay couples don't."

Another, Caleb Alexander of Monticello, thoroughly dismantled Cox's argument and the theme of the rally, according to Arkansas News.

“The judges, they’re not elected to uphold a vote. They’re elected to uphold the Constitution,” Alexander said. “The Constitution says that equal rights are not subject to a vote. The majority can’t legislate to a minority. I think a lot of the speeches sounded like a speech made in 1942 before desegregation."

Watch KARK Channel 4's report, AFTER THE JUMP ...

UPDATE: Oral arguments in the Arkansas Supreme Court case have begun and are being live-streammed here

Continue reading "Gay Marriage Opponents Rally Outside Arkansas Supreme Court On Eve Of Hearing: VIDEO" »


MLB's Torii Hunter Endorses Arkansas Politician for Protecting 'One Man and One Woman' Marriage: AUDIO

Torii-hunter

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball player Torii Hunter released a radio spot, endorsing a politician from his native Arkansas. The politician is Asa Hutchinson (R), who is running for governor.

In the spot, Hunter specifically appeals to Black voters, saying that in Hutchinson's time as a lawyer, he "fought for more majority African-American districts in the state legislature." He continues, saying Hutchinson is "committed to the principles we hold dear, like a strong faith in God, equal justice for all, and keeping marriage between one man and one woman."

As if the above contradiction weren't blatant enough, Hunter also invokes Martin Luther King in the spot, quoting him in saying "men should be judged by the content of their character." This is given as a reason for Black voters to not dismiss Hutchinson: Said Hunter: "we too often prejudge political candidates by their party label. I'm asking you to consider Asa for his actions."

This isn't the first time Torii Hunter has let his beliefs on gay issues be known; in 2012, he said the thought of playing with a gay athlete made him "uncomfortable," "as a Christian." 

AFTER THE JUMP is full text of the speech, and the audio embedded:

Continue reading "MLB's Torii Hunter Endorses Arkansas Politician for Protecting 'One Man and One Woman' Marriage: AUDIO" »


Conservative GOP Candidates Running Grindr Banner Ads

Grindr_adGOP frontrunner Tom Cotton (R) is running a tight race with Mark Pryor (D)  for one of Arkansas’s senatorial seats. Recent polls out of the University of Arkansas have Cotton leading Pryor by a margin of 49-36%. His lead is due in no small part to a recent endorsement from the NRA and maybe (just maybe) the set of ads the pro-gun organization ran for him on Grindr.

According to The Daily Beast, the NRA paid for a batch of banner ads featuring Cotton that popped up on the popular gay networking app. While Grindr is no stranger to featuring advertisements for a wide range of social causes, the platform has a policy against running political advertising provided by third-party networks.

“While we do have safeguards in place to monitor for ads on third-party networks, we do serve billions of ads on our network, so there is the occasional chance that ads like this may appear,” a Grindr representative explained to The Daily Beast. “In this instance, we’ve reached out to the third-party networks to have these ads removed.”

As word about the ads spread across the internet, the firm purportedly responsible for placing them and Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai denied any involvement or knowledge of the curious endorsement.

“We have no knowledge of the ad mentioned,” Simkhai told Buzzfeed. “We do not welcome the NRA to advertise with us.”

In related news, LGBT ally Zach Wahls was tipped by a friend this week that Iowa GOP Senate hopeful Joni Ernst was also running ads on the gay app. 


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