FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The city council in Fayetteville, Ark., early Wednesday approved a controversial LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, becoming the first city in Arkansas to enact a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
By a 6-2 vote, the council approved the measure following nearly 10 hours of public discussion and debate, reports the Fayetteville Flyer.
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.
The ordinance calls for the city to appoint a staff member to investigate complaints from residents who feel they’ve been discriminated against during housing transactions, employment decisions, and other public accommodations in Fayetteville.
The council heard from more than 120 people, including state representatives, clergymen, private business owners, and more than a dozen of Fayetteville’s LGBT residents.
Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan closed out the discussion with strong comments encouragin the council to vote in favor of the ordinance:
“I believe that equality, diversity and inclusion are the driving forces of all freedoms for everyone and without equality, diversity and inclusion, there is no freedom for anyone. And I’m going to stand for that freedom as the mayor of this city.”
Earlier in the evening, Alderman Justin Tennant proposed putting the entire ordinance on the Nov. 4 ballot, but that effort was defeated 6-2.
Article continues belowThe issue could still be put to a public referendum with signatures from 15 percent of the 27,296 residents who voted in the 2012 mayoral election.
On Monday, a robocall recorded by Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the Duggar clan in TLC’s reality series “19 Kids and Counting,” urged residents to call on council members to oppose the measure, claiming it would lead to women going topless at public swimming pools, men using women’s restrooms, and allow pedophiles and sexual predators to abuse people.