Fayetteville Legal Experts Address Questions About Civil Rights Ordinance

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)- A panel of legal experts participated in a question-and-answer session about Fayetteville's Civil Rights Ordinance Tuesday (Nov. 18) night.

Fayetteville voters will decide whether they want to repeal Ordinance 119 in a special election on Dec. 9.

The discussion, which lasted almost two hours, was held at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and was hosted by the Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The panel was made up of local lawyers and law professors.

Fayetteville lawyer Eva Madison, who also serves on the Washington County Quorum Court, was part of Tuesday's panel.

5NEWS spoke to Madison before the event to clarify parts of the ordinance:

Can members of the transgender community use a bathroom facility of their choice?

“Public accommodations are not supposed to discriminate in their services [and] goods, which would include a facility. So, if you go into a restaurant, the bathrooms that are there, and are available, would be part of the facilities that that restaurant offers. The ordinance adds protection for individuals based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. So, that would cover transgender people," Madison said.

Will churches have to perform same-sex marriages?

“A minister, who provides services, is essentially providing a public service. I`m not sure that the ordinance goes far enough in allowing a minister to decline a ceremony. It just allows a church to decline the use of their facilities. I do think there is some grey area there, where churches could be concerned that they might have to perform a wedding that would, perhaps, not be fitting with their religion," Madison said.

Can an employer be jailed for firing someone because of their race, gender, sexual orientation or religion?

“Under the ordinance, you could be pursued criminally. That is the only possible sanction that the city says they have, that they have the power to issue. So, any sanction that would come from the ordinance would be a criminal sanction. My understanding is that it would not be looking at jail time, but it would be a criminal citation," Madison said.

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 in December after a petition with 5,714 signatures on it was turned in to the Fayetteville City Clerk. The ordinance prohibits local businesses and entities from discriminating against customers and others based on gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors, but cannot be enforced until the outcome of the special election.

Early voting in the special election starts Dec. 2.


  • Joan

    So, in essence, everything that was said about this ordinance was true. Men who think they are women can use the ladies bathroom, pastors better not have something else on their calendar if a homosexual couple wants to get “married” on that day, and if a homosexual is not able to do his/her job, better not fire them or you’ll face charges of discriminiation.

  • PeaceLily

    It is ridiculous to assume that people of the LGBTQ community are sexual predators. The truth of that matter is that sexual predators come in all types of orientations. Children are at no greater risk of being assaulted in a public restroom than they are now.
    Secondly, no one wants to be joined in marriage by someone who does not want to marry them or who thinks their marriage is “sin”. Pastors, stop your worrying. No one from the LGBTQ community will be soliciting you for your services in that regard.
    Lastly, this is still a “right to hire, right to fire” state, which means a member of the LGBTQ would have to prove that they were fired on the basis of their sexual orientation alone- not something easily done. They also would have to be completely open about their orientation, which is still a rarity in these parts; because of the mindless discrimination of people like Joan.
    Oh and Joan, you have probably already shared a public restroom with a transgendered cross-dresser and didn’t even know it!

      • Mark

        Does somebody have to answer your question for you? Unlike you.. Peacelily clearly defined her position in a rational objective manner.. And yes you can have as many choices/opinions as you want as long as they don’t discriminate against other human beings because you claim your bible told you so!! The justifications people make in the name of their religion are off the charts wacko.. Jesus was about love and acceptance.. Not ostracizing people because they are different.. Think outside the box a little.. Walk a mile in their shoes.. Maybe you’ll change your perspective!! Doubt it but it’s worth a shot..

    • Get Real

      Your post, piecelilly, and mark, has very little to do with the truth, and much to do about innuendo, bullying, name-calling, and half-truths. Let’s not play “pass the bill to see what’s in it” again. That didn’t end well for most of us. Even the supporters at this meeting talked of “grey areas”, “I’m not sure”, and “my understanding”. Flaunting their perversion, homosexuals, trans-genders, bis, and lesbians, continue their attempt to force others to embrace their lifestyle as normal and legitimate. It takes very little effort to research lgbt harassment and intimidation of businesses, churches, organizations and programs that elect not to support their activities. What these individuals do is up to them, but don’t force others to modify their religious beliefs and freedoms. Equal rights they already have, special rights, they don’t need, and shouldn’t be given at the expense of others. Voters, participate on Dec 9th, don’t let a loud-mouth bullying minority demand special treatment due to an arrogant, elitist city council. The “civil rights ordinance” is neither civil, or right.

      • Mark

        I’ve already asked you this before and you conveniently didn’t answer..how do they have equal rights if you are allowed to discriminate against them? Is the lgbt category a federally protected class?

    • I know it

      “Secondly, no one wants to be joined in marriage by someone who does not want to marry them or who thinks their marriage is “sin”. Pastors, stop your worrying.”

      In direct response to above quote….why then do we see lawsuits exorbitant enough to make a small business close because a family owned business refused to perform the ceremony or a church is in hot water for refusing to hold a service? Please explain these recent lawsuits.

      • PeaceLily

        Just my opinion, but I don’t believe those who are seeking to have their way via lawsuits are really concerned with marrying the person they love, but rather stirring people up assuming you could just go to a courthouse and have a JP perform the ceremony. I could see the lawsuits taking place if churches/pastors were the only way a person could be married.

    • Gabby

      The society of LGBTQ go out of their way to make sure those that don’t agree with them will suffer. Apparently you don’t read much news because it has become a trend for LGBTQ to seek out and destroy business that don’t want agree with the lifestyle.
      Seriously, LGBTQ why not support your own kind and spend your money at their business? No, that’s not what you want, you want to make sure everyone acknowledges who you are because of you f&ck.

  • Darin

    If you attend a church, own a business, or have rental property you better get out and vote. Beware any law or ordinance that has this many interpretations and difference of opinions.

  • I know it

    We are very fortunate to have family restrooms. I usually looked for the single restrooms when my children were younger.

    I have a young baby now and when she’s older we will continue to look for the single restrooms (especially if this passes and we go to Fayetteville).

    I don’t agree with the ordinance and it will limit my shopping in Fayetteville, should it pass. There are plenty of places in Rogers and Bentonville to shop and I will choose to go to one of those locations to avoid Fayetteville.

    I’m not saying that a cross dresser would harm children but I won’t allow my girls to go into a restroom with men around.

    Might as well have a non-gender multi restroom.

  • Brian L

    I’m looking forward to these new rights nude men in the gym locker room have always offended me. I would much rather be in the female locker room.

  • Darin

    Mark said – “The justifications people make in the name of their religion are off the charts wacko.. Jesus was about love and acceptance.. Not ostracizing people because they are different.”
    I don’t think that worked out so well for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. God is about love but he is also will judge those that do not follow his commandments.
    Romans 1
    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
    22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
    24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
    25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.
    26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet
    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
    32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
    This isn’t about Hating, its standing up for what is right and calling sin what it is….SIN. I would love for anyone who has not be born again to come to our church and repent of their sins and begin a life of serving God.

    • Mark

      Who is God?? Your God?? What about the people that don’t believe in god or believe in a different god.. Does this not apply to them? And per the establishment clause mixing your religious faith and politics don’t mix.. So let’s talk discuss without faith intervening.. By the way.. Check out what Mark Twain said about faith.. Kinda makes sense!!

  • Eric Parkinson

    It’s a complicated issue – which contributes to much of the rhetoric from both sides. Those “for the repeal” of the rights granted in the ordinance have framed their objections primarily on two hot points: 1). The Libertarian principal that a business should have the ” right to refuse service” to anyone, for any reason, and 2). The seemingly unlikely occurrence of a). A transgendered person using a public restroom in Fayetteville, and 2). That this particular Transgendered person is also a pedophile predator. Personally, I have not seen any Transgendered persons in Fayetteville (or perhaps just ” not noticed” in the same way that I tend to ” not notice” if people have facial hair or brown eyes). I’ve also not seen any pedophiles in public restrooms around here. But I suppose it’s possible that there are both types in or around Fayetteville. So I think the better question is: WHAT SORT OF PARENT sends a small child into a public restroom unattended anyway? Should we instead be drafting ordinances to require parents to have more common sense?
    Repealing civil rights feels like the wrong side of history to me. The exact type of arguments to repeal this ordinance we’re used to set the stage for Jewish persecution in Germany in the 1930’s, and to justify anti-black Jim Crow laws up until 1964. Come on Fayetteville… aren’t we better than this?

    • Mark

      You are exactly right.. Repealing civil rights is on the wrong side of history… The founding fathers..the civil rights leaders.. Suffragettes were all considered radical during their time..you can’t reason with god fearing southerners.. Everything is based off their make beleive book.. If they would interject thought and not belief into the equation we might progress.. Don’t see it happening anytime soon!!

    • Mark

      Oh my.. The horror of having homosexuals around us..do you not know anyone different than you?? Have you left the state of Arkansas..ever??

  • Darin

    Mark. The God I am referencing is the one that is on your money, the pledge of allegiance, and the one that the fathers of our nation referred to when they started this great country. And he is one you made reference to in your comment about being a God of love. You are in America man… One Nation, Under God….

    • Mark

      Darin- I referenced God because that’s in essence how you beleive politically..obviously.. I’m agnostic because neither you nor I have any proof a God exists.. And never will.. God was not originally on our $$ or the pledge of allegiance .. It was added by Eisenhower in 1954 to somehow differentiate the US from the supposed aetheist commies in Russia…. And while some of the slaveowners who wrote the constitution were spiritual.. Many were not believers and staunchly against an established religion.. Exactly what you are espousing.. Do you really think your God is the only God? The right God? Are all the other different religions going to hell because they don’t believe in your god? This is preposterously presumptive for someone to even suggest.. Let’s think and not just beleive!!

      • DANNY

        Mark, better go back and look at the history of the American Founders. Most were Deists, and did in fact believe this new country was graced by God.

      • Mark

        Danny- I’m up on my history.. They also owned slaves and thought the world was flat..and were strongly against an established religion.. Which is what this debate is about.. Glad some of them believed in god.. But which god? The Christian god? Do you find it hard to believe that an overwhelming majority of scientists who study these topics all day every day are atheist? I’m agnostic because I don’t know and quite frankly neither do you.. It’s all faith based.. I like facts/science and concrete evidence .. Neither of which any of us possess!!

  • PeaceLily

    I would also like to pint out that interracial marriage has only been legal in the state of Arkansas for LESS THAN 50 YEARS!! And there are still plenty of people in this area who think it is wrong or sinful, but that doesn’t make it so. As always, JMHO. *Peace out and peace within*

  • Darin

    I’m not saying that my religion is the only one that is right, we are told not to judge. But when you speak about GOD in the United States then it is the God of the Bible. People don’t call Mohammed GOD, that don’t call Allah GOD… Thank God for forefathers that knew which God they believed in and had the support of the nation to put His name on our money and pledge of allegiance. And yes, I can’t believe in God if I didn’t know that he is the one and only true God. If I didn’t believe that, then I would be no better than an atheist that doesn’t believe in any god. I live by His commandments and the first one is “You shall have no other gods before Me”

    • PeaceLily

      Darin- I stopped being a Christian when I met a family of Pagans when I was in high school. I had been taught by the church that Pagans were devil worshipers. I had also been taught that ANYONE who doesn’t believe in the Christian God is bound for hell and there is no amount of good that can be done by said person if they don’t believe Jesus was the son of God. The Pagan family I met are some of the nicest people I have ever known and truly held no judgments against others, much to my surprise. I have since met many people of many religions who are truly kind, generous and thoughtful people who do not think of someone else’s future in terms of eternal demise simply because they have a different belief than the mainstream Christians. Allah actually is the word God in Arabic and Muhammad is the name of their prophet, similar to the Jesus of the Christian faith. I could respect the Christian faith (and its followers) more if they would teach the truth of other religions. Father Abraham has many sons and those of the Islamic faith believe Muhammad, just like Jesus, was one of those decedents. I do wish you and all the other posters here the very best and hope that whatever the outcome of this election is that we can continue to be cordial and kind to each other irrespective of our beliefs.

    • Mark

      I’m not trying to be ugly here but you are just factually incorrect..

      If you are told not to judge then why are you judging the lgbt community?

      God in the US is traditionally judeo Christian.. But God of the bible is not the official religion ( see establishment clause)There are hundreds of different gods..and to name a national religion as you are inferring is illegal

      Again- the founding fathers did not put God on our $$ or pledge of allegiance .. That was done in 1954 by Eisenhower to combat the Russian commies .. NOT the founding fathers!!

      I’m glad you are so certain that you have found the one and only God..I wish I could say the same!!

  • Darin

    I agree. We all are still Americans and even though we have different beliefs we have to respect each other. We are in this world together to make a difference. Too bad the ISIS and other groups can’t figure that out.

    • Mark

      Great.. Let’s start by respecting each other by not discriminating against a certain group because they are different..wouldn’t that make sense??

    • PeaceLily

      Then perhaps the answer is individual public restrooms/locker-rooms only. I can find just as many cases involving assaults between opposite sexes as well. Public restrooms are NOT safe and never have been irrelevant of which gender is indicated on the door. Your point is moot.

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