AG Appeals Fayetteville Civil Rights Ordinance Ruling To Supreme Court

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — The Arkansas attorney general announced Wednesday (March 30) she has appealed a lower court ruling that upheld the Fayetteville civil rights ordinance to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Washington County Circuit Court Judge Doug Martin upheld Ordinance 5781 on March 1 after a group called Protect Fayetteville, which campaigned against the ordinance, filed a lawsuit claiming the law violated constitutional rights and a state law known as Act 137, or the Intrastate Commerce Act.

The civil rights ordinance extends anti-discrimination protections to LGBT residents and visitors in matters of employment, housing and public services and went into effect in November.

Arkansas legislators passed Act 137 during the 2015 legislative session. The law prohibits municipalities from extending anti-discrimination protections beyond those already afforded by state law. Those anti-discrimination protections include race, religion, national origin, gender and disability.

The attorney for the defendants, which include the City of Fayetteville, Mayor Lioneld Jordan, and all the members of the Fayetteville City Council, argued gender identity and sexual orientation are protected by state laws like a statute called “Antibullying policies” and the Arkansas Domestic Peace Act, therefore the civil rights ordinance would not violate Act 137.

In his summary judgement, Judge Martin sided with the defendants.

Along with her appeal, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued the following statement:

“I disagreed with the lower court’s decision and its interpretation of Act 137. Given my duty to fully defend state law, I am seeking to appeal the ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court.”

To read the appeal, click here.