Fayetteville City Council Forces “Nondiscrimination” Ordinance in Single Meeting

Taking a page from the Eureka Springs City Council’s book, the Fayetteville City Council voted last night to suspend the rules and run a so-called “nondiscrimination” ordinance through in a single meeting.

City ordinances typically are read and discussed over the course of at least three meetings to give citizens and council members ample time for review and debate; suspending the rules and running an ordinance in a single meeting is a way governing bodies can quickly pass noncontroversial measures or address emergency situations.

However, the Fayetteville ordinance is anything but noncontroversial, and proponents of the ordinance have failed to demonstrate that the ordinance is even necessary, let alone that it somehow addresses an emergency.

Here is a breakdown of the ordinance passed in Fayetteville last night:

Is This Ordinance Different From Those Passed in Other Cities in Arkansas?

(more…)

Open Season on People of Faith in Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs may be the toughest place in Arkansas for people who want to practice their Christian faith in the public square. Tuesday’s passage of a so-called “anti-discrimination” ordinance has made it a lot harder for Jews, Christians, Muslims, and anyone else of faith to exercise their religious beliefs. Now, it’s open season on people in those groups.

Rather than preventing bias and discrimination, this ordinance makes discrimination the law in Eureka Springs. People of all faiths have always enjoyed religious freedom in Eureka Springs. Under this ordinance, citizens can be forced to choose between obeying their faith and obeying the City of Eureka Springs.

(more…)

City of Little Rock to Weigh Unnecessary Ordinance

The City of Little Rock has announced it will begin the process of considering a so-called “nondiscrimination” ordinance pertaining to city employment.

According to news sources, the ordinance would prevent the city from making employment decisions based on sexual-orientation or gender-identity, and it would prevent businesses that contract with the city from doing so as well. However, the ordinance is unnecessary and may run afoul of new state law.

You may recall that S.B. 202 passed during the last legislative session prevents cities and counties from extending any special rights or protections beyond those found in the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993. However, the bill specifically exempts employment policies by cities and counties.

Under S.B. 202, the City of Little Rock might be free to decide it will not make employment decisions based on sexual-orientation or gender-identity, but it is questionable whether or not the city can require private businesses to adopt similar policies as a prerequisite for doing business with the city.

The fact that this ordinance apparently seeks to regulate private business is especially troubling.

However, this proposed ordinance appears to be completely unnecessary for two reasons.

First, there is no objective evidence at this point that people in Little Rock are being hired or fired based on their sexual-orientation or gender-identity. In that sense, this is a solution in search of a problem.

And second, the City of Little Rock already has a policy in place preventing employment decisions based on sexual-orientation and gender-identity.

The official Administrative Personnel Policy and Procedure Manual for the City of Little Rock says,

“It is the policy of the City not to discriminate in its employment and personnel practices because of a person’s race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, veteran’s status, political opinions or affiliation. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including, but not limited to: hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leave of absence, compensation, and training.” (Emphasis added)

This proposed ordinance seems absolutely unnecessary in light of the fact that Little Rock already has this policy in place. With that in mind, it is unclear exactly what the City of Little Rock hopes to accomplish.