They have and did.
After almost four hours of discussion last night that favorably commented on it by a 32-20 margin, ,Fayetteville City Council members voted 6-2 to pass the Uniform Civil Rights Protection Ordinance and send it to the voters for a September 8 special election. The new ordinance won’t go into effect until it passes at the ballot box.
Work on the new ordinance started immediately after the controversial repeal vote in December that featured Michelle Duggar’s transphobic robocall. The new ordinance incorporates several existing laws like the Arkansas Anti-Bullying Act and the Fair Housing Act. It also borrows language from the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993, which defines “employer” as a person who employs nine or more employees in the state.
Besides the citizens that spoke favorably for it, it also has the support of one of the groups who initially worked to defeat the original law, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.
If passed, the new law will prohibit business owners and landlords from firing or evicting someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It will also provide protections for use of public accommodations, including restrooms.
City Attorney Kit Williams believes that he can defend it, despite the passage of Act 37, the deceptively named Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act . It bans cities and
counties from enacting or enforcing “an ordinance, resolution, rule or
policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits
discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.”
And as usual (boo hiss) Churches, religious schools, daycare facilities and religious organizations of any kind are exempt from it.
We’ll have to stay tuned to see what the next chapter brings in terms of whether this stays on Fayetteville’s law books.
Because Fayetteville is the home of the University of Arkansas, not having a human rights law on the books is bad for business and recruiting, especially with the Razorbacks being a member of the SEC, I’m betting it will.