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Fayetteville, Arkansas To Vote On Controversial LGBT Non-Discrimination Order Today - WATCH

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Fayetteville could today become the first Arkansas city to implement an LGBT non-discrimination order (NDO), reports NWA Online.

Alderman Matthew Petty proposed the NDO, which would ban employment discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background and veteran status, after being approached by the Northwest Arkansas Center for Equality, an LGBT advocacy group with offices in Fayetteville.

During the proposal's second reading on August 5th, the vast majority of the more than 100 people who packed the City Council chambers criticized the proposed NDO as government overreach and an unnecessary infringement upon residents' religious beliefs.

Speaking against the NDO at a protest last Saturday, Republican Senator Bart Hester said:

“I think they’ve included a whole bunch of things that are already covered in law, just to protect the few little issues that we all know this is about…this is about telling a church that they have to host a gay marriage that they don’t support.”

A Monday robocall to voters, narrated by reality television star Michelle Duggar and paid for by the Arkansas Family Council, urged residents to speak out against the NDO:

“I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space.”

However, Blake Pennington, assistant city attorney, said that such arguments are "nothing more than fear-mongering."

City council member Sarah Marsh, who said that the ordinance “guarantees that all people will have access to housing, employee and public accommodation,” expects there to be a vote today following the third and final discussion of the ordinance.

Earlier this month, Billings, Montana Mayor Tom Hanel cast the deciding vote against a proposed NDO that would have protected Billings residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Watch a report on last weekend's protest, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Marriage Plaintiffs Concerned Arkansas Supreme Court, Threatened by Lawmakers, Won't Rule Honestly

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs in a case challenging Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage filed a motion earlier this week asking members of the state Supreme Court to recuse themselves from the case if they're seeking reelection.

Arkansas_supremesThe reason for the unusual request is that those seeking reelection have been threatened with retaliation by conservative state lawmakers should they side with marriage equality.

The Arkansas Times reports that up to five of the seven justices could be up for reelection and thus covered by the motion filed last week.

Judge Chris Piazza struck down the state's statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. His decision has been appealed, but its effectiveness stayed. As it now stands, it might be decided by November, depending on whether delays are requested.

In the meanwhile, the Legislative Council has adopted a resolution sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert that said Piazza had overreached in his decision. It called on the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and to nullify any of the roughly 500 marriages that occurred in the week before his ruling was stayed. The resolution, hand-delivered to the court, said the legislature would pursue legislative remedies to prevent the popular will from being thwarted by "judicial activism." Legislators have said this could include proposing for the ballot a judicial recall mechanism in 2016.

The motion said the legislature had filed the resolution with the court, essentially a threat to take action against a judge who ruled contrary to legislative wishes.

More at the Arkansas Times....

The state has until September 8 to file its brief in the case and it's unclear when the Court would rule.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who personally supports marriage equality but is fighting to keep the state's ban in place, said in a statement that the justices should not step aside.

"So long as we have our current system, it is a nonstarter to file recusal motions simply because justices must hear controversial cases and then stand for election, as that is precisely what is contemplated in our constitution."


Arkansas AG Asks Judge to Keep State's Gay Marriage Ban in Place

McdanielArkansas' Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is asking a federal judge to keep the state's ban on same-sex marriage in place, arguing the ban is constitutional and serves a legitimate purpose.

Arkansas News Bureau reports:

In a brief filed Wednesday, McDaniel's office argued, "The United States Supreme Court has recognized a bevy of legitimate state interests that are directly implicated and furthered by Amendment 83 and Act 144 of 1997."

The attorney general's office argued that those interests include preserving the referendum process; advancing procreation; promoting stable family environments in which children are raised by their biological parents; preserving social norms linked to the historical and deeply-rooted meaning of marriage; and taking a cautious approach to governmental social experimentation. 

In May, McDaniel announced his support for marriage equality but pledged to defend his state's ban on same-sex marriage.


Arkansas Lawmakers Approve Resolution in Support of State’s Gay Marriage Ban

The Arkansas Legislative Council, the organizing committee for the state’s General Assembly, has approved a resolution urging the Arkansas Supreme Court to uphold the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage that was struck down by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chirs Piazza back in May.

Southwest Times Record reports:

Sen. Jason RapertThe non-binding resolution by Sen. Jason Rapert [pictured], R-Conway, had 59 of the 135 members of the Arkansas Legislature as co-sponsors. Legislators adopted it in a voice vote with only a few “no” votes heard. […]

The resolution states that “Judge Piazza’s resolution is in direct contradiction to his oath to uphold the Arkansas Constitution” and that the Legislative Council “shall explore legislative remedies to prevent the Arkansas Constitution and the will of the people of this state from being negated by judicial activism which violates the separation of powers ensured in our form of government.”

Rapert told reporters he expected Friday’s action to be followed by an effort to create a system of judicial recall in Arkansas. Work has already begun on developing a citizens’ initiative to allow judges to be recalled, he said.

Watch THV11's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Monday Speed Read: Utah, Arkansas, Porterville Mayor, Obama vs. Homophobia, Sacred Heart Tux

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

McshaneOREGON DECISION AT NOON TODAY:

U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane of Oregon said Friday he would issue his decision at noon PDT today in litigation challenging the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. Unless McShane puts a stay on his own decision, a ruling against the ban would likely go into effect immediately.  Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber supports the right of same-sex couples to marry, and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum refused to defend the ban in court, saying it was unconstitutional. Officials in several counties have already indicated they are prepared to issue licenses as soon as such a decision is announced.

ArkansasARKANSAS ROLLER COASTER:

Arkansas county circuit court Judge Chris Piazza issued an amended and final decision May 15 to make clear he intended to include, in his original May 9 ruling striking down two laws banning same-sex couples from marrying, a third law that prohibits county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The next day, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a one-sentence order, granting the state’s request for a stay on Piazza’s decision pending the state’s appeal before the state high court. And then, the Republican speaker of the Arkansas House voted against suspension of House rules to allow for a vote on a resolution to urge the state supreme court to overturn Piazza’s ruling. The Arkansas Times reported that House Speaker Davy Carter voted against suspending the rules to allow the resolution on the floor, saying “Judicial intimidation by the legislative branch is not appropriate in this instance or any other.”

MAYOR SAYS BULLIED KIDS SHOULD ‘GROW A PAIR’:

Porterville, California, is not an LGBT friendly place. Its city council last fall ousted a mayor who had declared June LGBT Pride Month and, in 2008, it supported Proposition 8. But it still startled some observers last week when the new mayor, Cameron Hamilton, said kids who are bullied should take care of the problem themselves. “I’m against bullying, but I’m getting damn tired of it being used as a mantra for everything….All most people have to do is grow a pair and stick up for them damn selves,” said Hamilton, recorded by ABC News. The former mayor, Virginia Gurrola, said “It’s hard to stand up and grow a pair when you’re a ten-year-old little girl.” The proposal before the council was a resolution by Gurrola to create “safe zones” for kids during after school hours. Gay Porterville spokeswoman Melissa McMurrey said she was “shocked” by Hamilton’s remarks. The council will take up the resolution Tuesday, May 20.

PRESIDENT SPEAKS AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA:

The White House issued a press release Friday, saying “no one should face violence or discrimination -- no matter who they are or whom they love.” The statement was released to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which was Saturday. The president’s statement also noted that next month marks the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

CATHOLIC STUDENTS RALLY BEHIND TUX:

Students at a Catholic high school in San Francisco wore ties to school Friday to express their support of a female student who wore a tuxedo for her senior portrait. Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory requires female students to wear dresses for their senior portraits and took Jessica Urbina’s photo out of the yearbook. But school officials told the San Francisco Chronicle Friday that the tie-day action “sparked a campus-wide dialogue which will result in a revision of policy."
© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Arkansas Supreme Court Halts Gay Marriages

The Arkansas Supreme Court has issued a stay of Judge Chris Piazza's ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban.

Arkansas_supremeThe Arkansas Times reports:

This will again end the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Arkansas. It's been an on-and-off process in a handful of counties since Saturday, with most of some 500 licenses issued in Pulaski County. Video above from Fox 16's David Goins shows one of the last ceremonies at the Pulaski County Courthouse.

Piazza's decision will now go through the appeal process. A record of the lower court case must be prepared. A briefing schedule must be set and probably oral arguments. The court takes a two-month recess each summer. Even with an expedited schedule, it's uncertain if the case can be decided this calendar year, when two of the current justices — Cliff Hoofman and Donald Corbin — will be replaced by Rhonda Wood and the winner of a race between Judge Robin Wynne and Tim Cullen.


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