Fayetteville Chamber Recommends Repeal Of Civil Rights Ordinance
FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) – The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce has adopted a resolution recommending the repeal of the city’s controversial civil rights ordinance, according to documents from the chamber.
The ordinance, passed in August by the Fayetteville City Council after nine hours of public discussion, is set to be voted on by the public after a petition with 5,714 signatures on it was turned in to Fayetteville City Clerk Sondra Smith. A special election scheduled for Dec. 9 will ultimately decide the fate of the ordinance.
The chamber already sent a letter to Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan on Aug. 28 requesting that a group be established to receive input while the city worked to establish its new civil rights ordinance. Jordan agreed and established the requested 19-person advisory group in September.
After adopting its new resolution on Nov. 7, the chamber decided to recommend the repeal of the civil rights ordinance based on multiple factors, chamber documents state.
Those factors listed in the resolution include:
- The civil ordinance is “deficient” as a legal standard and appears subject to constitutional challenge.
- It was adopted without a “complete and thorough debate, discussion, comparison and review of similar rights proposals.”
- Citizens of Fayetteville gathered enough signatures on petitions indicating that they wanted the civil rights amendment referred to a vote.
- The ordinance contains “deficient and vague” definitions and requirements that create confusion, concern and a lack of clarity as to what is legal and illegal conduct on behalf of all citizens of Fayetteville.
The resolution concludes that the civil rights ordinance “should be repealed and that citizens and businesses of [Fayetteville] alike should vote for the repeal of [the ordinance] at the election to be held on Dec. 9.”
In response to the resolution, Keep Fayetteville Fair put a post on their Facebook page saying that the chamber’s call for a repeal is “out of step” with the majority of fortune 500 companies in the country.
“Ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies have inclusive non-discrimination policies because they know it helps attract and retain the best talent,” Anne Shelley, spokesperson for Keep Fayetteville Fair said. “Companies across the United States, a great number of which operate here in Arkansas, including Walmart, have embraced anti-discrimination protections and have encountered no problems.”
“Keep Fayetteville Fair believes a vote against the repeal will allow our city to uphold our values and faith, which teaches us we’re all God’s children and that everyone should be treated with respect. The supporters of Keep Fayetteville Fair believe all folks who work hard, pay their taxes, serve in our military, and contribute to our community deserve to be treated fairly under law, including our gay and transgender neighbors,” the post states.
The post closed by encouraging Fayetteville voters to vote against the repeal on Dec. 9.
Mark Kinion, a Fayetteville Alderman who recently won reelection, announced on his Facebook page that he was going to return a contribution from the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce in light of their new resolution.
“I appreciate the kind endorsement of the chamber of commerce, but I am returning their contribution to my reelection campaign as a matter of principle and personal integrity,” the post states.
The post continues, “It makes me very sad that our chamber of commerce leadership is going down this road as it is repeating a very painful era I recall well during the human dignity debate. I thought we had healed a wound.”