Fayetteville, Arkansas Passes Non-Discrimination Ordinance

The unlikely city of Fayetteville, Arkansas now has a city ordinance forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation after the city council voted 6-2 to pass it. This followed a marathon session where advocates and opponents of the ordinance went on for some 10 hours.

Fayetteville City Council members passed a controversial anti-discrimination ordinance early Wednesday morning following nearly 10 hours of public discussion and debate that began Tuesday evening inside City Hall.

The proposal (PDF here), brought forward by Alderman Matthew Petty, will appoint a city staff member to investigate complaints from residents who feel they’ve been discriminated against during housing transactions, employment decisions, and other public accommodations in Fayetteville.

The new law means landlords and business owners could be investigated and prosecuted for unjustly evicting or firing someone because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic background, marital status or veteran status.

State and federal law prohibits discrimination based on someone’s age, gender, disability, race or religion. But in Arkansas there are no state-level non-discrimination laws that cover the other categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

I know someone who was there and she was posting to Facebook about it. At one point, an opponent of the ordinance actually said, “I have a gay friend and he’s against this law.” As another friend of mine likes to say: It’s time for you to shut the hole that makes the words.

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  • tuibguy

    This is why I dislike people writing off the South for being rednecky and racist. I lived in Texas and Oklahoma for longish periods of time, and I saw only a slight difference in numbers of people with discriminatory attitudes compared to Minnesota. I traveled all over the South Central US for work, and Fayetteville was one of the places I would occasionally travel to. I liked it there. It is very pretty, homey and the people I worked with were for the most part very cool, and also very nice.

    This is nice to see. I wouldn’t be surprised if Little Rock did this soon enough, too.

  • I live in the area, and it was a fairly big surprise. The reason the area gets written off is because we have a lot of loud rednecky and racist people (see whoever Duggar it was, who is from the area, that was just wailing about this ordinance).

    However, Fayetteville and the entire Northwest Arkansas area is a bit better than the other areas on there. It has the University of Arkansas, for one. And while I’m sure there’s a whole lot that could be said on the big employers in the area (Walmart, Tyson, and JB Hunt all have their corporate offices here – a huge portion of us work for one of them or a related company), the effect that bringing in a huge variety of people to work at them, from all over the country and all over the world, has some real positive effects on fighting the more typical culture.

  • John Pieret

    Well, good for the Fayetteville City Council. I’m sure there are political risks for them all but they stood up for what is right.

  • D. C. Sessions

    And another pebble falls from the side of the mountain.

  • But if I can’t treat the gayhomos like garbage, who’s left? Trekkies? Good luck with that! They have phasers. Phasers! And they’re always saying things like “Tricorder scan indicates that you won’t do squat, jack.” I don’t even know what that means!

  • John Pieret


    But if I can’t treat the gayhomos like garbage, who’s left? Trekkies?

    Ah, but there is someone left … and it was the objective of our gayhomo agenda all along: Bible believing Christians!!! Bwahahahahahahahah! As soon as all the FEMA camps and boxcars are ready and Obama declares martial law you’ll be able to treat Bible believing Christians like garbage to your heart’s content! Unless, of course, you are one … in which case, good luck!

  • Pierce R. Butler

    tuibguy @ # 1: … I dislike people writing off the South for being rednecky and racist.

    Uh, but they do have a point (all your valid examples of rednecky racism up in Yankee Country notwithstanding). Fayetteville is the Athens, GA/Austin, TX/Gainesville, FL/Durham, NC of Arkansas.

  • pretty much just a rural/urban divide.

  • NC is the real weird one for me though. I know the state pretty well and have always been shocked when it rates attrociaously horrible on the conservative scale… I mean, they got Chapel Hill, Charlotte (an int’l city like NY and Atlanta), Boon, Ashville, Durham… Plus the awesome beuatiful outer banks that brings in folks from all over…

  • Ed:

    This followed a marathon session where advocates and opponents of the ordinance went on for some 10 hours.

    I would have loved to sit and listen to the entire 10 hour debate session. I suppose it was probably not always exciting and inspiring, but this is how progress is made. By people talking about these things.