Last night, the city of Hot Springs took a tremendously important step forward in the fight for inclusiveness and equality under the law for all Arkansans. Its powerful actions stand in remarkable contrast to the vision for America that former Governor Mike Huckabee, who earlier that morning announced his presidential campaign up the road in Hope, offers the nation.
By a vote of 6 to 1, the Hot Springs’ Board of Directors made a strong statement against discrimination by passing a local ordinance that calls for the fair treatment of all residents in the provision of city services regardless of race, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and a number of other important categories. The measure, which will go into effect in 30 days, also ensures that the city will not use taxpayer dollars to discriminate in city contracts and bars any vendor that does business with the city from discriminating on those bases as well. The city of Little Rock passed a similar measure in April. HRC Arkansas State Director Kendra R. Johnson released the following statement in response to the news out of Hot Springs.
“Mike Huckabee has a virtually unrivaled record of opposing equality for LGBT Americans among presidential candidates, and Hot Springs courageously overshadowed his campaign announcement by taking a meaningful step forward for equality in the Natural State. The city’s decision to protect residents by passing a non-discrimination ordinance is what Arkansas’ true future is all about. Arkansans want to move forward, not backward, and their commitment to that principle was on full display in the right-to-discriminate fight with Governor Hutchinson and the Legislature earlier this year.”
The hometown of former President Bill Clinton, Hot Springs is exclusively represented both in the Arkansas General Assembly and the Senate by conservative lawmakers, all of whom voted for deeply divisive, hateful legislation -- SB 202-- that stripped municipalities from local control in enacting non-discrimination ordinances protecting its LGBT residents. The conservative mayor of Hot Springs cast the sole vote against the ordinance passed last night. The measure is designed to be in conformance with the new state law that’s expected to take effect this summer.
“Little Rock and Hot Springs are demonstrating leadership in advancing equality for all Arkansans, and its well past time Governor Hutchinson put forward an executive order for Arkansas’ LGBT state workers.”
HRC Arkansas is working to advance equality for LGBT Arkansans who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Arkansas, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.