Arkansas Red Shirts

Post submitted by Hubert Tate, former HRC Press Secretary, Project One America

Early this morning in Fayetteville, the city council voted 6 to 2 to pass Arkansas’ first Anti-Discrimination Ordinance.   Over 350 supporters of the ordinance crowded the street, the lobby, and the chambers, dressed in red, widely outnumbering opponents.   Supporters of the ordinance spoke passionately about fairness and equality, and courageously shared stories of discrimination.

Testimony lasted into the early morning and concluded with the successful vote at a little after 3:00 a.m.  This historic vote puts Fayetteville at the leading edge of bringing enduring legal protections to its LGBT residents and visitors in the great state of Arkansas.

The anti-discrimination ordinance was introduced by Alderman Matthew Petty in July 2014 to protect all Fayetteville citizens from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. When it goes into effect in 31 days , the ordinance will protect all residents and visitors against discrimination on the basis of real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. 

Despite this tremendous victory, opponents are likely to attempt to collect signatures to place the ordinance on the ballot in a special election in the coming months.  The Fayetteville Fairness Coalition, which came together to support the council in passing the ordinance,  stands ready to fight this at the ballot box as well.

Check out HRC’s Municipal Equality Index to see what steps other cities across America are taking to protect residents and visitors from anti-LGBT discrimination. 


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