Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Local LGBT Ordinance Repealed By Fayetteville, AR Voters

Hmmm, now that the fight over marriage appears to be coming to a close there is increased focus on other aspects of the gay rights agenda that most people thought had been settled a long time ago: should LGBT people have equal access to public goods and services, housing, employment, credit, et cetera? Simply said, are gay rights civil rights? (And by "gay" here I mean "LGBT.")

In many states there are no state laws against discriminating against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no federal law banning discrimination in these areas either, so many activists have started enacting local ordinances (like the one enacted in Houston earlier this year) to protect LGBT individuals from rank discrimination based on characteristics that have nothing to do with their ability to do a job, rent an apartment or access services from local businesses or governments.

However, there are many people who not only feel that their religious beliefs about LGBT people should be informative (if not determinative) of public policy in this area but also that the Government is abridging their religious beliefs by enforcing equal treatment under the law based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. These people are the same people who thought that it was a brilliant idea to put the marriage rights of their fellow citizens up for a vote and now want to do the same thing with basic civil rights as well.

Anyway, this week there was another skirmish in the upcoming kulturkampf on this issue when a local ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas was repealed just months after it was enacted, thanks primarily to political activity by conservative and religious leaders.

The vote was surprisingly close (less than 500 votes out of 14,000 cast) but the bad guys won. Keep Fayetteville Fair responded:
Fayetteville voters decided to repeal a city wide anti-discrimination ordinance in a special election Tuesday night. Keep Fayetteville Fair and its supporters have campaigned the past several months, encouraging a vote against the repeal of the ordinance. 
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. The ordinance would have protected Fayetteville residents from being fired from their job, denied housing, or kicked out of a restaurant simply because of their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. 
“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.” 
The campaign would like to thank all its supporters and volunteers who put in countless hours to keep our city fair. Including others who stood up for fairness, Rep. Greg Leding, Alderman Matthew Petty and Mayor Lioneld Jordan.
Hat/tip to Max Brantley

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