Arkansas continues to fight pro-LGBT+ ordinance

Ordinance voters in Fayetteville circa 2015. Photo by Bil Browning via The Advocate.

By Kara Kliewer
Staff Writer

In September 2015, Fayetteville, Arkansas was battling for Ordinance 5781.

In summary, the ordinance provides protections to LGBT+ people living within the community against discrimination based on gender/sexuality when it comes to housing, employment and public accommodations including lodging and restaurants.

The battle to pass the ordinance was certainly an uphill one as “Protect Fayetteville,” an opposition group, soon arose looking to block the ordinance from passing. You can read more about the battle here.

Despite the debate, citizens of Fayetteville spoke out in support of the ordinance.

“The passage of this ordinance will have real-life, day-to-day impact on our city, and it symbolizes the values of inclusivity and tolerance that we in Fayetteville pride ourselves on having,” said Danielle Weatherby, a spokeswoman for “For Fayetteville” (an opposing group to Protect Fayetteville”).

Following the support of many, the ordinance eventually passed on September 8th, 2015. Read about its passing here.

Despite its over 50 percent approval rate, following  implementation, opposition soon arose once more in the form of a lawsuit by Protect Fayetteville.

“It was an illegally crafted law and it must be stopped,” said Duncan Campbell, head of the Fayetteville campaign. “We will defeat them in court.”

While efforts to defeat the ordinance did not come to fruition, the group has not stopped its fight, and they are finding more power with the help of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge who has recently began backing them.

Following this, opposition asked a Washington County Circuit Judge, Doug Martin, to issue a preliminary injunction against it.  

They are asking for the block as the legal battle over the ordinance continues. The battle is expected to continue for a while as it has recently been sent back to Martin’s court from higher courts as, until its constitutionality is ruled on in lower courts, it can’t be addressed in higher ones.

In response to these efforts, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas is speaking up.

“Fayetteville’s ordinance has been in place for nearly two years. There is no need for an injunction against it and we will oppose their request,” Holly Dickson, the Legal Director at the Arkansas ACLU chapter said.

Copyright The Gayly – 9/29/2017 4:29 p.m. CST