Protesters Gather On Square To Rally Against Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

The Fayetteville square was busy Saturday evening with people gathering to protest ordinance 119. The ordinance is being voted on Tuesday by the city council to create a civil rights administrator for the city.

The rally was sparked by a heated city council meeting on August 5. The council heard from concerned citizens about the ordinance, and some people felt their basic rights were being violated.

City council member Sarah Marsh said ordinance 119 is meant to create a feeling of inclusion in the city of Fayetteville.

“This guarantees that all people will have access to housing, employee and public accommodation,” Marsh said, “Public accommodation would be eating at a restaurant or renting a hotel room.”

Marsh said the ordinance would be created to help protect members of the LBGT group, as well as veterans and racial minorities.

“I would encourage anyone to go and actually read the text of the ordinance…we have adopted specific exclusions for religious associations and institutions,” Marsh said.

Some members of the church and conservative groups said they feel like the ordinance will infringe on the church’s rights, including state Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs).

“I think they’ve included a whole bunch of things that are already covered in law, just to protect the few little issues that we all know this is about…this is about telling a church that they have to host a gay marriage that they don’t support,” Hester said.

He said the ordinance is the reason locals who share Hester’s opinion were gathered on the square Saturday night.

“It’s just a rally of the grassroots efforts of people to come together and say hey, we don’t want our civil rights violated…we want liberty,” Hester said.

The next city council meeting is Tuesday (Aug. 19) at 5:30 p.m. Marsh said she expects there to be a vote on ordinance 119.

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