Controversial Civil Rights Meeting To Remain At Fayetteville City Hall

Photo courtesy of the City of Fayetteville.

Photo courtesy of the City of Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – Despite concerns over whether the venue would be big enough for the crowds, Tuesday’s Fayetteville City Council meeting will remain at City Hall.

Aldermen on Monday night considered moving the next day’s meeting to a bigger venue, but unanimously decided against the change because of safety issues.

The council is scheduled Tuesday night to discuss whether to add a civil rights administrator for the city. The created position would use city powers to uphold proposed anti-discrimination rules for local businesses.

(Click here to read the proposed ordinance)

The council chambers were filled to standing-room only Aug. 5, the last time aldermen discussed the proposed ordinance. More people are expected to show up to Tuesday’s meeting, prompting the city to consider moving the meeting to the larger Fayetteville Town Center for a rental rate of $2,000.

The council members voted 8-0 to keep the meeting at City Hall, following concerns over whether the city would be able to stream the meeting from the Town Center online, as is customary. Some aldermen also said moving to a larger venue could create safety issues because of the large number of people expected to attend. It would be easier to manage the large numbers at City Hall, they said.

The amended ordinance concerning the creation of a civil rights administrator must go through three readings before it can be adopted by the city. Tuesday night’s meeting will mark the third reading, after which aldermen may choose whether to approve the proposal.

That ordinance would officially create a civil rights administrator, who would be able to use the city’s powers to ensure “all persons within the city have equal access to employment, housing and public accommodations,” the proposal states. The proposal states it would ban business establishments from discriminating against people based on real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, disability and veteran status.

The proposed ordinance also bans discrimination measures while employing a person or conducting a housing or real estate transaction.

Spectators last meeting overwhelmingly spoke out against the proposed ordinance, saying it violates First Amendment rights by forcing private businesses to treat customers a certain way. Several people also spoke out in favor of the proposal, saying it protects those who otherwise might be discriminated against by local businesses and housing officials.

The City Council has changed several portions of the original proposal, including striking from the ordinance a section that would have made it unlawful for businesses to post or print materials which might make certain people feel unwelcome or undesirable. The change came after city attorney Kit Williams said the section could be seen as perpetuating prior restraint against First Amendment rights.

Several local pastors and church leaders spoke out last meeting, after which the council exempted churches from having to conduct ceremonies or organized events that might hold values or ideas different from the churches.

Councilmember Sarah Marsh attracted boos and criticism from the audience last meeting after saying she was “ashamed there is so much darkness in the heart of this community,” following the public comment portion of the council meeting.

Despite the contention between Marsh and audience members at last meeting, she later said her hope is the ordinance brings the people of Fayetteville together.

“We are hoping that it will encourage a community of compassion and inclusion, where everybody has equal opportunity to succeed,” she told 5NEWS. “If someone felt they were discriminated against, they could contact the civil rights administrator and air their grievances.”

The amended ordinance was originally proposed by Alderman Matthew Petty because he said there are instances of discrimination in Fayetteville that need to be addressed in an official capacity.

The proposal brought protests over the weekend, as those against the ordinance gathered on the Fayetteville Square on Saturday. Rally-goers said they felt their basic rights were being violated.

Marsh said she believes the ordinance upholds anti-discrimination measures while exempting many of those who have been most vocal against the proposal.

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

Tuesday night’s meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.

24 comments

  • Sarah 300

    In Fayetteville, people with land lines are being phoned to support the church and to STOP the anti-discrimination policies proposed by the city council.

  • Elaphas

    Welcome to the new Amerika where the Bill of Rights don’t matter any more. Government at all levels is out of control.

  • Mel

    It is currently illegal to discriminate in the United States. Situations of discrimination are handled in a court of law. Is it the city’s plan to act as a court of law? A business must set its policies based on law; therefore, it is up to the courts to decide if a business’ policies are discriminatory.

    • FEDUP

      Mel: absolutely correct. And for Fudville’s city council to waste time (and taxpayers money) presenting this ordinance is beyond comprehension..

  • Are you kidding me right now.

    Why is protecting the weak against your views? Jesus said love one another as I love you.John 15:12 Also what you have done unto the least of these you have done unto Me. Mathew 25:45

    • j4gameone@gmail.com

      “1Pe 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
      As far as protecting the weak goes, Here is a question… Is it right to protect the wicked? What you said it right, we are to love everyone no matter how ungodly they are. This however, does not mean that we should cater to their sin.
      Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? It wasn’t man that burned them down for their wickedness, but God.
      So, could you honestly see Jesus, in all his Holiness doing those things? What if Jesus was to come down for a day, would he be pleased that we’re making it easier for people to sin?
      “Ro 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”
      You see, someone is actually made weak by choosing a life outside of God’s Character, Will, and Word.
      A weak person is made stronger if we don’t let them break the very nature of God Almighty.

      • Sarah 300

        In Luke 5:27-32, Jesus invited a tax collector named Levi (later called Matthew) to follow him. Levi collected from the Jews to pay the Romans. He was allowed to charge extra and pocket the difference–a shady occupation at best, verrry unpopular with the average oppressed Jewish person.

        But Levi left his ill-gotten gains behind, walking off the job to follow Jesus. Then he threw a big party in Jesus’ honor, inviting all his tax-collector and other shady friends to meet him.

        What did Jesus do at dinner — tell everyone they should be ashamed of themselves?

        Nope. He sat down to eat with them and get acquainted. Everyone was happy as could be.

        Except the religious leaders. They griped at Jesus for showing grace to these sinful people.

        Here is Jesus’ reply to the leaders:

        It is not those who are well who need a physician,
        but those who are sick. I have not come to call
        the righteous but sinners to repentance.

        You see what he did there. Jesus didn’t deny that these folks were sinful. He acknowledged that they needed to repent. But in perhaps the most tactful, roundabout rebuke ever, he as good as told the religious elite, “I’ve come to call those sinners you’re complaining about, but not you.”

      • Josiah

        So, let me get this straight…
        You’re trying to justify making a law so people can sin easier, by using the publicans as an example?

  • ThankYou

    The discrimination that this ordinance is meant to curb is real, and it’s wrong. After reviewing the arguments against the ordinance, I see nothing that is significant compared to the magnitude of the protections against wrongful discrimination. The most disappointing part of reading about all of this is how much people are avoiding some of the most important questions, like whether or not people in Fayetteville are being discriminated against and why, and instead are fixated on unlikely hypotheticals, like the sudden surge in creepy and criminal men haunting women’s restrooms. It’s unfortunate that key people are being threatened for such a humanitarian act.

  • Jimmy

    It amazes me how many people are ok with discrimination. The new position is just to uphold laws already in place and exempting churches from it. Which the new position is to make sure religious freedoms are protected so I don’t know why churches would be against it. Why so much hate now a days, especially from the religious sector? Does anybody remember the parable in the bible where the master invites the religious to his sons wedding and they don’t come because they reject him so he sends his servants out to invite the poor, crippled, blind, lame and the outcasts. To me this is the way the religious are acting today. Don’t hide behind religious freedoms and freedom of speech to spew more hate and discrimination. Don’t hate what you don’t know or understand. We are more alike than you realize.

  • Richard S. Drake

    When I was a high school aged military brat in the 1970s it was easy to convince ourselves that prejudice would be a thing of the past by the 21st Century; how foolish we were!

  • Arkajun

    The are already adequate federal laws to deal with this issue. This is nothing more than a move by a certain council member to push her own agenda without any regard to her constitutents’ wishes and support. You can’t convenience me that a majority of voters in her district support this measure.
    Typical liberal behavior…to do what you want in spite of wishes of everyone else, who you hurt in the process, and to endow the government with more power and control of the people.

    • Tamara

      Who is hurt in the process of attempting to ensure equal rights to all people? That is a bizarre concept to me.

      • Arnold Fudpucker

        You end up confusing the issue by passing many redundant laws. It also opens up the potential for loopholes of behaviour in this case. How many words to you need to describe the answer “NO”?

  • Audra

    If the City of Fayetteville “can’t afford” the equipment and manpower to clear their streets after snow and ice storms, which costs local businesses tens of thousands in lost revenue and keeps public schools in session until the middle of summer, then where is the city getting their funding to hire a Magistrate of Political Correctness?

    Very glad my small business is not based in Fayetteville. I wish people would stop and think about the harm this can cause. Anyone can haul off and accuse a business owner of discrimination, and the city of Fayetteville wants to hire *one* individual to be the arbiter of the veracity of any claims of discrimination. Whether a claim proves to be true or not, it will end up in the newspaper and adversely affect that business owner, because if the good people of Fayetteville get off on anything, it’s boycotting. Even if that business owner is cleared of any wrongdoing, the damage is done.

    I also noticed in the General Exceptions of the ordinance it states that “This chapter shall not apply to any federal, state or county government office or offìcial, or any public educational institution within the City.” How convenient! Different laws for different people.

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