Enforcing the measures will likely prompt a challenge over a law and whether it goes as far as lawmakers intended. Little Rock’s attorney has argued that the state measure doesn’t prevent cities from enacting protections for LGBT people, since sexual orientation and gender identity are included in other parts of state law.
The proposal doesn’t prevent a local government from adopting anti-discrimination protections that only cover its employees and agencies.
The only advisory opinion issued by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge about the law hasn’t specifically said whether the local ordinances adopted so far would be prohibited.
Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger, who co-sponsored the law limiting the local anti-discrimination measures, said he didn’t believe Eureka Springs would continue enforcing its ordinance and said he viewed it mostly as a symbolic gesture.
“I think they’d rather have the symbol of the ordinance on the books and not enforce it than face a legal challenge,” said Ballinger, whose district includes Eureka Springs.
The Arkansas Family Council, a conservative group that backed the new state law, is considering challenging Little Rock’s ordinance in court and plans to reach out to vendors who may be affected by it.
“We’re probably months away from a court case,” said the council’s president, Jerry Cox.
The future of such ordinances could become even more muddled in the meantime, with the city of Fayetteville’s voters deciding in September whether to keep that city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.
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