News (USA)

It’s again legal to fire, deny housing and refuse service to LGBT people in Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Voters in Fayetteville, Ark., on Tuesday repealed a controversial LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance approved by the city council in August.

Fayetteville, Ark.
Fayetteville, Ark.

KFSM-TV reports that 52 percent of voters cast ballots to repeal the ordinance, compared to 48 percent who voted to retain the measure — a difference of fewer than 500 votes, with turnout less than 30 percent of registered voters.

The ordinance, approved by the city council in a 6-2 vote on August 20, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.

Fayetteville was the first Arkansas city to enact such an ordinance, but a group that opposed the measure gathered enough signatures to force Tuesday’s special election.

Opposition to the ordinance gained national attention due in part to the efforts of the Duggar family of TLC’s reality series “19 Kids and Counting.”

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In August, Duggar matriarch Michelle Duggar recorded a robocall urging residents to pressure 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.

As of October 31, the Duggars had donated $10,000 toward the city council campaigns of the ordinance’s three most outspoken critics, two of whom were listed as contacts on a press release for the repeal effort.

With Tuesday’s vote, it is once again legal to fire, deny housing and refuse service to LGBT people in Fayetteville.

“This is the first round, but it won’t be the last round,” said Mayor Lioneld Jordan, who has publicly endorsed the ordinance. “I would have liked to have seen it go differently, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go back and try something again eventually.”

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