Effort to repeal Arkansas law limiting local LGBT protections advances

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The lawmaker behind the state law said he wasn’t worried about the possibility of it being repealed.

“The threshold is so high I would be surprised if they would be able to get the signatures,” Republican Sen. Bart Hester said. Even if they do, “I don’t think there’s any chance they’ll be successful.”

If the referendum qualifies for next year’s ballot, the law would be held on hold until voters have a chance to weigh in on it.

The referendum campaign is the latest challenge to a law that was cast as anti-gay. Little Rock officials voted this week to prohibit the city and its vendors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

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Although the law allows cities and counties to adopt anti-discrimination policies for its own employees, Little Rock’s ordinance goes a step further with the restriction on vendors. The city has argued the move is legal, noting Arkansas has anti-bullying and domestic violence shelter laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBT people.

Rutledge’s office has declined to comment on whether Little Rock’s ordinance violates the law.

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