Fayetteville Leaders Approve Controversial Civil Rights Issue

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -After nearly nine hours of public discussion, the Fayetteville City Council early Wednesday morning approved the controversial civil rights ordinance that drew hundreds of audience members from across the area.

The ordinance passed 6-2 at 3:20 a.m., with aldermen Martin Schoppmeyer and Justin Tennant voting against the measure. The council meeting began at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, but extended several hours because of the dozens of audience members who spoke during the public input section of the meeting.

The ordinance takes effect in 31 days and will prohibit local businesses and entities from discriminating against customers and others based on gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors.

The ordinance will also create a new position---the civil rights administrator---who will enforce the rules of the ordinance using city powers. Council members said they do not yet know who would be appointed to the position.

(Click here to read the ordinance)

Those violating the ordinance could be fined up to $500 by the city. If they refuse to pay the fine, they may face jail time, said city attorney Kit Williams.

Several members of the council spoke out in favor of the ordinance before the final vote, with Mayor Lioneld Jordan delivering a speech about the responsibility of elected officials to stand up for the people.

"I believe everyone should have the same rights as everyone else," Jordan said.

The mayor went on to say he had confidence in city officials' abilities to figure out how to apply the ordinance in the coming weeks and months.

Schoppmeyer did not speak on the issue, but Tennant said while he agreed with the thought behind the ordinance, he was concerned about the uncertainty of how the new position would work.

He also criticized giving so much power to one administrator who has not even been named yet by the city. Tennant instead suggested creating a civil rights panel made up of five members, one from each city ward. That suggestion was never picked up by the other council members.

"I don't see a plan. I see an idea for a plan," Tennant said. "I hope it's not as bad as I think."

Before voting on the ordinance as a whole, the council decided earlier Tuesday night not to allow local residents to vote on the issue. The decision came after Tennant suggested earlier in the meeting that voters should have the final say on the issue at the Nov. 4 general elections.

Alderman Mark Kinion said he voted against allowing the public to vote on the issue because the protection of minorities should not be left up to the majority.

Fayetteville residents may still bring the issue to a public referendum if they turn in a petition with 4,000 certified signatures by next week.

Hundreds lined up outside of Fayetteville City Hall on Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of the meeting. Dozens of people had to be turned away from the City Council chambers because of concerns from the fire marshal over crowd safety.

The mayor opened the meeting by assuring the public anyone who wants to speak would be heard Tuesday night. Around 3 a.m., the final member of the public finished speaking at the podium. The line to speak stretched out the door for several hours.

Several transgendered men and women spoke up during public input, saying the ordinance would allow them to feel safer and not fear for their jobs and housing. Petty said current laws allow employers to fire employees because they are gay or transgendered, a situation he said the ordinance will remedy.

Several church members and concerned members of the public also spoke out against the issue, saying they worried about the negative effects the ordinance could have on local businesses and churches. Some said they were concerned the ordinance could invite frivolous lawsuits that would hurt the reputations of good businesses.

The ordinance will 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 ordinance states it will 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.

Rogers lawyer Marshall Ney waited in line and spoke up during the public input section of the meeting, saying he had a problem with the ordinance's language. Allowing socioeconomic status to become protected could hurt businesses trying to make sure clients could pay for their services, he said.

Ney gave an example of a bank running a credit check on a potential loan client. The city attorney responded such instances are not intended to be affected by the ordinance, and that courts would take into account the intention of the ordinance.

The Rogers attorney countered that the language could still put such businesses at risk.

The City Council changed several portions of the original proposal before the final vote, 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 the city attorney said in an earlier meeting the section could be seen as perpetuating prior restraint against First Amendment rights.

Several local pastors and church leaders spoke in a similar meeting earlier this month, after which the council exempted churches from having to conduct ceremonies or organized events that might hold values or ideas different from the churches.

In a self-described show “of good faith” for church leaders speaking out against the proposed ordinance, Petty added a clarifying amendment Tuesday night that will exempt places of worship and tax-exempt properties from opening their doors to ceremonies or activities contrary to their ideals, as long as they are not receiving public money.

Another amendment passed Tuesday night specifically prohibited anyone from using the ordinance to justify sneaking into the "wrong" restroom, a concern that was brought up by several public speakers Tuesday night and at the last council meeting. The city attorney said that would have been illegal anyway under state law.

The ordinance was originally proposed by Petty because he said there are instances of discrimination in Fayetteville that need to be addressed in an official capacity. Several speakers agreed with Petty on Tuesday night, saying discrimination should not be legally able to thrive in the City of Fayetteville.

Detractors of the proposed ordinance said it violates First Amendment rights by legislating behavior and infringing on local businesses’ freedoms.


    • Velda

      This is the end of times as the bible states it. The world is coming to pass. This is absolute destruction of families and no home is safe now. The end is within days. Biblical prophecy is fulfilled.

      • objectivefodder

        Oh Velda, you poor lost soul of unhappiness and fear. Don’t you know your kind will be eradicated and annihilated, all because you misread the directions and followed the plan of destruction? You failed! And you know what’s interesting, only your kind will be eighty-sixed, all by your own prophecies and written code. Think about it, you’re fulfilling your own directives and plans! Have you thought about that? History will reflect that you will have been purposefully and intentionally born to abide by, live by, produce for and die for the system! Wow! You just met your demise because you believed in your own perilous fantasy as an indoctrinated Guiney Pig. Enjoy!

  • Mike

    Love Fayettevlle but completely shocked and disgusted that this will not be decided by popular vote. This should create revolt, I’m concerned about social chaos and pure socialism. Socialism to me is control of our minds. Do your research unless you prefer to be a sheep.

    • objectivefodder

      Hey Mike, take a break from your “good book” and digest the realities of modern civilization. If you aren’t already, then learn and be aware of Agenda 21,The Rand Corporation, ENDA, (Employment Nondiscrimination Act of 1996), et al. Oh yeah, have you bothered to read the predictors of modern day society? You know, the authors and architects? May I recommend Carroll Quigley, “Tragedy and Hope: A History of The World in Our Time”, as well as “Human and Sustainable Development”. And “The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs” (DESA), Population Matters Group, The Georgia Guidestones, National Security Study Memorandum 200, Population control and economics along with sustainability and selective procreation and production of the species…check these guys out… Thomas Malthus, “Essay on the Principle of Population for implementation of population control. Around the year 1900”, Sir Francis Galton “Hereditary Improvement” , Paul Ehrlich “The Population Bomb”, Garrett Hardin “The Tragedy of the Commons that society must relinquish the “freedom to breed” through “mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon.” Prominent personalities, Bertrand Russell, Margaret Sanger (1939), John D. Rockefeller, Frederick Osborn (1952), Isaac Asimov, Arne Næss, Jacques Cousteau. Look at the plans for the future here… Californians for Population Stabilization, Center for Biological Diversity, Earth Policy Institute, Negative Population Growth, NumbersUSA, Population Action International, Population Connection, Migration Policy Group, Population Council, Population Media Center, Population Reference Bureau, Worldwatch Institute. Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, The Center for Strategic and International Studies. Enjoy. Ignorance is no excuse for being unaware and uninformed. The elites know, so why not you?

  • objectivefodder

    Progressive and clearly moving ahead, that’s Fayetteville and we’re grateful. I’m proud of this town. It was liberal in the sixties and still is today. Liberal means fairness and equality. No need to continue demonizing the word my friends. Our forefathers were all liberal and gave us a wonderful system to work with. Tonight, this community spoke through civic leaders. We’re a better city for this legislation. Everyone is welcome here, a true Ozark quality. History reflects that the tough and hardened Ozark families accepted pioneers and Native Americans settling here when this region prospered almost two hundred years ago. Today, we continued that quality. We love this community and it shines with equality, love and projects an even brighter future with modern humanism and opportunity for all, not just a few privileged. The Mayor and City Aldermen are heroes. Now everyone will be treated with respect and considered equally for all housing, employment and public accommodations without fear of discrimination.

    • nealnbob

      CIOMPLETEFODDER are you trying to rewrite the meaning as you liberals are trying to do with History? Liberal means EXCESSIVE SPENDING, POWER and CONTROL along with low to no MORAL STANDARDS. Most liberals favor a welfare state where people receive endless entitlements without working. Liberals are often anti-Christian, or otherwise disagree with moral or social principles held by many American Christians. The liberal ideology has worsened over the years and degenerated into economically unsound views and intolerant ideology. Anyone who believes liberals are all about fairness and equality is insane!

      • Sarah 300

        You are WRONG. Liberals do not favor a welfare state. Ridiculous thinking. we care about those less fortunate than we are.
        Conservative Bush 43 literally tripled the national debt by bailing out the banks, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. They should have been allowed to fail. Bank presidents walked away with ten to twenty million yearly bonuses paid by you, Mr. Taxpayer. The bonuses never cease as some of these men are now on the boards. Maybe two went to jail. They got away with robbing their investors and depositors. Remember Lehman Brothers?
        Glass-Steagall needs to be put back into law. Since Reagan, all manner of borrowing money has eased up. People live way above their means.
        Do you not remember the recession of 08? People lost their homes by the millions, companies went under and pensions were lost. Only the upper echelon in those businesses were paid. Do some real research NOT blog sites or opinion. Don’t even get me started on ENRON or the Federal Reserve.

    • FEDUP

      “…..Native Americans settled here…” We were run out of Arkansas. Read your history; that is, if you can read.

    • Tom

      All I can say, and care to say, in response to you is that we will take our freedom back one day. Until then, know that there are millions who despise what you stand for, and you and others like you for standing for it.

  • Richard S. Drake

    Given all the ignorance and fear-mongering about public restrooms spouted by folks opposed to this, the only possible compromise would be to BAN all public restrooms, and then just park a Port-A-Potty on every other street corner!

  • Richard S. Drake

    “‘social chaos and pure socialism” – boy, talk about Cliche Land.
    Other cities with similar ordinances are among the most prosperous cities in America, and attract industry AND creative artists.
    Isn’t it always sort of fascinating how some see anyone who doesn’t see the world through their eyes as “sheep”?

  • Ann

    My main concern was the issue with the churches. It was a VERY CLEAR violation of separation of church and state, as they were advised by local attorney. They, according to article, have exempted churches. That is good.
    I really don’t see much of a need for this legislation, however. I think it is more laws for the sake of passing laws. A fair employer, as most are, will not discriminate on such. As a former HR Manager in charge of hiring, that never came into play when making decision. Only experience and capability of doing the job. Most HR Managers feel the same way.

  • Elaphas

    Perceived race? Man, are these leftist nut jobs out of control or what. When a government tells you how to think it is tyranny. This cannot stand for much longer.

  • L Garrison

    Now is your real chance to voice your disapproval of this nonsense people. Take ‘your’ money out of the city. Do business in the surrounding cities. If their pocket books start drying up you ‘Will See’ a much different tone. This country was never formed to be dictated by the ‘ Minority’ populace. I say again take your money out and this non sense will evaporate. You can stand around and whine and be run over or you can act. If you mean it-leave it. It won’t be easy but it can be done.

  • Kevin

    500 dollar fine to voice your opinion in Fayetteville. Too bad I really liked shopping at the pack rat won’t set foot in Fayetteville now.

  • Sarah 300

    Congratulations to the Fayetteville City Council. They considered the people who stood in line and needed discrimination to cease.
    For you who think no discrimination exists, I am sorry your tight circle has isolated you.
    Mr. Garrison, no government is telling you how to think. Maybe you need to read again. The law in Fayetteville prohibits discrimination. We made history in Arkansas. Thank you City Council for allowing everyone to speak.

    • objectivefodder

      I agree Sarah. The haters can leave. “Bye-bye!” The lessor educated and incessant bigotry can go with them. As time passes, these types of discriminatory fascists will slowly self-destruct anyway. Progressive cities, as the commenter mentioned, are growth centers for prosperity. Their futures are bright for the international marketplace. Good prevailing wages, Union work ethic with a strong middle-class and access to superior education and technology based business is the ideal model for our future. Let’s set the precedence! The whiners and criers aren’t welcome anymore. The bar was raised last night and those who can’t adapt will be culled out. The archetype business model for adaptation and sustaining growth into the future as well as mastering success in the marketplace requires cutting edge decision making. Fayetteville will eventually excel competitively. Next, we need to work on attracting High Technology along with Science and industrial manufacturing. Medical Sciences and Engineering come to mind. Being diverse is the epitome of a thriving compatible ecosystem. Education, objectiveness and love will trump the questionable opposition and eventually leave our neighboring cities in the dust. Free enterprise is wonderful, but fairness and equality insure stability. People first before corporate profits.

  • Sean Wright

    Once again those officials that are supposed to represent the people are only representing the loud minority. It’s sad for the people that were waiting in line for their voice to be heard in opposition was only a formality and their opinions were never considered. Letting the majority decide is no longer convenient for those pushing their agenda through.

  • Larry

    This shows you the kind of nut jobs that teach at UA and cram the liberal thoughts into the heads of your children. Which of these issues was not already against the law? Was it okay the discriminate in Fayetteville before this was passed? Glad I moved out .

  • sarah 300

    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). 

    • objectivefodder

      Sarah, you can’t change or influence the hearts of those who speak with a bitter tongue. Through selfish endeavors, they care not about anyone else (save themselves). They are full of vitriolic hatred and animosity. Somehow, they equate fairness and equality with oppression and intolerance. They are fake and have no love for human kind. Greed and selfishness flourishes their soulless hearts. The Republicans did a great job brainwashing and indoctrinating the weaker minded callused evangelical Christian right. They bought the lie hook, line and sinker. So sad. They’ve been deceived and don’t even know it. Pity, huh? Their days are numbered anyway. Let ‘em be, they’ll get their self-fulfilled punishment and reward soon.

      • Sarah 300

        Thanks O.F. I just wish everyone could enjoy the purpose of joy and life that I do. I feel for those less fortunate as well as those close-minded.
        Thanks again.

  • Gary

    Used to not mind doing business in Fayetteville and have friends that live there but probably won’t be doing much business there anymore. Our freedoms in our nation continue to erode because of these kind of actions. The city council is there to represent all the people and not just “minorities”. It looks like and sounds like the city council went against the majority of what the people desired. Hope they have enjoyed their terms.

  • Marie

    Looks like Fayetteville needs to re-call their city Council. When they ‘decide’ that the Citizens do not deserve to Vote on issues that concern them, something is very Wrong. So if the goal is to ‘insure Everyone’s Rights’ , why the Disregard of the Rights of the Voters?

    • happypine

      You obviously do not know how city governments work. City ordinances are not voted on by the people. They are established by city councils. The people vote for their representatives, and the representatives adhere to their duties by creating ordinances to protect and serve their constituents. Again, the rule of the majority shall not infringe on the rights of the minority – T.J. No rights have been taken away from the majority of the population. The only thing this ordinance does is protect the rights of the minority.

  • OwnerBon

    My business wont need to violate this, I will simply close my public rest rooms. That simple. You want to play pervert, do it somewhere else. If forced to keep my rest rooms open, my employees have a standing order to make them rather undesirable. You force me to keep them open? Fine, expect a whole other level of gross.

    Also if I am in my shop, I will serve who I want, how I want, and its up to YOU to prove I “discriminated” lol so get that “civil rights cops” out there and keep him busy because I intend to. You wont ban me from anything, in fact you will now only ensure that I will go out of my way to discriminate lol. Catch me.. if you can

    • objectivefodder

      My fellow OWNERBON, you “Poor poor hater”. Eat your pride and gloat in disgust “in disguise”. You pathetic “Cretin whiner crier sad sap”. “The flush toilet, more than any single invention, has ‘civilized’ us in a way that religion and law could never accomplish.”
      ― Thomas Lynch, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

  • George Dubya Bush

    This whole entire story just goes to prove what I’ve said a thousand times repeatedly: You can lead a horse to water but you cant change horses midstream. Nobody has the right to go to the bathroom in womens clothes, a lesson I learned at a very young age. The true conservatives of Faetteyville need to stand up for there rites to refuse service to anyone they choose to.
    The members of this council are wishin in one hand while they dont know what the other hand is doin and I just betcha that hand is doin somethin very bad that they should be ashamed of.

  • Unassuming Local Guy

    Reading through these comments only prove just how raciest, sexist, and/or homophobic a lot of people in this state really are. What a tragedy. The fact that Conservatives are going out of their way to not invite people into their business defeats the purpose of business to begin with.

    You see Conservatives, when you own and run a business, what’s the main goal? To make money, right? Well, when you have a model that does not discriminate against other people you have a system that gets everyone involved. So what happens? Better job opportunities and *more* people to spend money at your business. No money is being unused.

    When you state to the public that you don’t want to serve to a particular sect of people, or just being a bigot in general, you’re more-or-less saying “Hey. Don’t give money to my business.” We live in the year 2014 and yet we still have people worrying about who’s using the bathroom?

    I implore: grow up.

  • Gottalaugh

    I stopped going to Eureka Springs because of the “embracing everything” attitude and now it looks like I and my family will not be going to Fayetteville.


    Liberals are slowly destroying our country and our way of life. The city council made up their mind a long time ago the public meetings are just a slap in the face.

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