In a reversal of a similar special election last year, Fayetteville voters resoundingly ratified the city’s Uniform Civil Rights Protection ordinance Tuesday.Fayetteville civil rights ordinance passes | NWADG
Final but unofficial results from the Washington County Election Commission showed 7,666, or 52.8 percent, of voters cast ballots in favor of the contentious anti-discrimination law, and 6,860, or 47.2 percent, voted against it.
The ordinance is scheduled to take effect Nov. 7, provided it withstands a legal challenge from Protect Fayetteville, the group that has advocated against the pro-LGBT law.
“I think this says that Fayetteville voters really are fair and inclusive folks,” said Kyle Smith, president of For Fayetteville, shortly after election results were announced. “I think we proved tonight that this is the Fayetteville we all know and love.”
The Uniform Civil Rights Protection ordinance prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and places of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It creates a seven-member, City Council-appointed Civil Rights Commission to review complaints. Violators are subject to fines of up to $100 for the first offense.
Even with Tuesday’s election result, the future of the Uniform Civil Rights Protection ordinance is unknown.
Protect Fayetteville representatives on Aug. 31 filed a lawsuit seeking to void the ordinance. The group alleged the ordinance was improperly referred to voters at a June 16 City Council meeting. And, they claimed, the ordinance is illegal under Act 137, which prohibits cities and counties from enacting or enforcing legislation “that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.” [External links added]
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The Human Rights Campaign, which provided support during the December 2014 repeal referendum, this time withheld their financial backing, citing the bill’s religious loopholes.Fayetteville, Arkansas Adopts LGBT Civil Rights Ordinance
“I want to thank the city council members who sponsored and voted for 5781 – Adella Gray, Matthew Petty, Sarah Marsh, Mark Kinion Alan Long, and Justin Tennant and our Mayor, Lionel Jordan, as well as some local organizations like the NWA Center for Equality and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce for their endorsements,” Smith said. We also thank the 415 Fayetteville businesses and 22 faith leaders who pledged their support to equality and 5781.”The Next Big Battle For LGBT Protections Is Brewing In A Small Southern Town