Arkansas, led by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, is committed to preventing anti-discrimination laws from being implemented in the state.
In February, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that a Fayetteville, AR, local ordinance intended to protect LGBTQ rights violated the state law prohibiting local municipalities from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances. Though Fayetteville’s ordinance has been law since 2015 while it’s fought in court, Rutledge asked a judge to block its enforcement on Friday.
City Ordinance 5781 was introduced because Arkansas’ civil rights laws do not cover sexual orientation.
From the Arkansas Free Weekly:
“In a nutshell, the ordinance specifically provides three areas of protection for the LGBT community in employment, housing and business. In effect, a citizen could not be denied or removed from housing, fired from their job or refused business based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Within our current laws, a private landlord can refuse to rent a home to someone because they are gay. Also, a restaurant or business owner could refuse service to a transgender person.”
Rutledge, along with a group called Protect Fayetteville that staunchly opposes the ordinance, argued that the law impeded the state’s attempt to implement “uniform” laws. District Judge Doug Martin ruled in favor of Fayetteville’s ordinance, but the February ruling sided with the state.
According to the Associated Press, Rutledge sought an immediate injunction on the ordinance.
From the AP:
“If a preliminary injunction is not issued, enforcement of Fayetteville Ordinance 5781 will prevent the state of Arkansas from fully implementing the purpose and goals of the Interstate Commerce Improvement Act,” the filing said. “Prevention of the state’s policy of statewide uniformity in anti-discrimination law constitutes irreparable harm.”
City Ordinance 5781 narrowly won 52% of the votes when it was introduced in 2015. The law was drafted in response to Arkansas statewide “anti-anti-discrimination” law that prevented cities from passing their own protections for the LGBTQ community.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has already vowed to fight Rutledge’s injunction. “There is no need for an injunction against it,” the ACLU’s Arkansas Legal Director Holly Dickson said in a statement to the AP. “We will oppose their request.”