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.