Fayetteville Anti-Discrimination Law Won’t Make November Ballot

fayetteville council meeting civil rights

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – Detractors of the recently-passed anti-discrimination law in Fayetteville can still reverse the ordinance if they can get the issue on a public ballot for a special election. The issue will not make the November general election ballot, though, according to the city attorney.

Opponents of the issue technically have until Aug. 26 to turn in a petition with about 4,100 signatures, thus placing the measure on the general election ballot. Even if those signatures were turned in immediately, though, they would not be able to be certified by the deadline, said City Attorney Kit Williams.

The inability to have a viable petition approved by the deadline next week means the issue will not appear on the November general election ballot, although Williams said the possibility remains open for the measure to show up in a special election.

If opponents of the measure turn in a petition with the correct number of certified signatures by Sept. 22, the issue would kick to a special election to be held at a later date. If voters in such an election were to reject the anti-discrimination law, it would be nullified.

The City Council early Wednesday morning approved an ordinance that would prohibit local businesses from discriminating against someone based on race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and other factors. It would also prohibit employers from firing someone because of those reasons, as well as ban housing officials from denying someone housing based on those factors.

The decision came after nine hours of discussion of the issue during Tuesday’s council meeting. The ordinance passed by a vote of six to two, with aldermen Justin Tennant and Martin Schoppmeyer voting against the measure.

In addition to prohibiting discrimination by local businesses, the ordinance will create a new position on the city staff that will enforce the ordinance. Anyone cited by this new civil rights administrator could face up to $500 in fines per offense. Anyone refusing to pay the fines could face jail time, according to city leaders.

Several council members said during the meeting they would not be in favor of a public vote because the rights of minorities should not be left up to the majority. They also said they are voted into their positions to make decisions for the city instead of leaving those decisions up to the public.

Tennant spoke out in favor of putting the issue to a public vote, saying the people of Fayetteville should be able to decide whether to adopt what has become a controversial measure for local residents. His suggestion, though, was rejected by the council.

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14 comments

  • Any

    Great. Cultural Marxism has finally found it’s insidious way into Fayetteville Arkansas. Please update the story to let freedom-living Arkansans know where they can sign the petition to put a stop to this PC nonsense and violation of our 1st Amendment rights.

    • wesley

      your inability to understand the 1st Amendment should probably be a bigger concern than what “freedom loving Arkansans” do with their time

  • Matt

    “Several council members said during the meeting they would not be in favor of a public vote because the rights of minorities should not be left up to the majority. ”

    I’m sorry but isn’t that why we vote? If the majority of the population wants it a certain way then they should go by with what the majority wants. Isn’t that how they got “voted” into those positions?

    • Sarah 300

      To be repetitive is boring, yet I repeat:

      The Founders had great respect for the will of the majority, but also understood that, as James Madison wrote in FEDERALIST NO 10, “The great danger in republics is that the majority will not respect the rights of minority.” President Thomas Jefferson proclaimed in his first inaugural address, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.”
      Independent judicial protection of rights by judges who are appointed and serve for life helps to ensure justice and the protection of individual rights. Citizens can also practice the civic values of consideration and respect in their daily lives in order to further ensure that the rights of the minority are respected.
      An early example of legislation designed to protect minorities is the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was designed to protect the political and civil rights of women and ethnic minorities.
      Landmark Supreme Court cases that illustrate this principle include Korematsu v. United States (1944), Brown v, Board of Education (1954), and Loving v. Virginia (1967).

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  • chrystal

    a church is considered a business, so does this mean if they preach against homosexuality that would be considered as discrimination and they would be fined? we have freedom of religion yet we are not aloud to speak of certain things in our religion because they might offend someone? thats messed up

  • Juris Esq.

    If this ordinance is passed, I, along with with other fellow law practitioners will happily be accepting new clients who are looking to pursue”legal recourse” against any and all actions taken by any agent/agencies representing this ordinance. While I honestly feel that this ordinance will never be allowed by the citizens once they easily get the amount of signatures required to put this ordinance to a vote and the conservative majority is mobilized. However, if the ordinance is somehow passed and becomes law, I can assure everyone, there is already legal precedent for recourse. Think carefully, directors. People don’t like it when you treat them like you are better than them and know what’s best for them more than they do themselves. I have feeling that this will definitely be the last term for a few directors.

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