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Fayetteville, Arkansas City Council Passes Non-Discrimination Ordinance: VIDEO


Following nearly 10 hours of debate, the City Council in Fayetteville, Arkansas voted to pass a controversial non-discrimination ordinance by a vote of 6-2 at 3:20 AM Wednesday morning. The ordinance will provide protections for citizens against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in addition to discrimination based on age, gender, national origin, race, religion, disability, ethnicity, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background and veteran status.

The Fayetteville Flyer reports: 

The new law means landlords and business owners could be investigated and prosecuted for unjustly evicting or firing someone because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic background, marital status or veteran status.

State and federal law prohibits discrimination based on someone’s age, gender, disability, race or religion. But in Arkansas there are no state-level non-discrimination laws that cover the other categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

The public meeting of the council that begin yesterday also saw many members of the public weigh in on the proposed ordinance. Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan referenced some of the stories shared by Fayetteville citizens when urging the council to pass the ordinance:

“Just today we’ve seen many of our citizens who’ve been excluded from the table of equality, and I believe it’s time for everyone to have a place at that table, no matter where they come from, what they believe or who they love,” he said.

“When we accomplish that then we can truly hold hands and sing, ‘The land of the free and the home of the brave,’ and actually mean it. We’ve got to go to some place we’ve never been or we’ll all just be stuck right where we are.”

Watch a news report on the meeting and the packed house the vote drew, AFTER THE JUMP…

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Fayetteville, Arkansas City Council Considers LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance: WATCH LIVE


The Fayetteville, Arkansas City Council is meeting now and hearing speakers as they take up the proposed LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO)

Click HERE to watch the meeting unfold LIVE.

One of the items at stake is whether the public will vote on the NDO in November or whether the council will decide the issue tonight.

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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