Reality TV stars help take away the civil rights of gay people in Arkansas


Sometimes, history seems to move backwards.

Voters in Fayetteville, Ark., on Tuesday actually voted to repeal the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which protected LGBT people and other minorities from discrimination. Groups that opposed the non-discrimination ordinance argued the legislation threatened their religious liberties and jeopardized their safety.


Helping drive the campaign to roll back civil rights: Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the conservative Baptists with 19 kids who star in the TLC reality series “19 Kids and Counting.” The couple donated $10,000 toward the campaigns of the three most outspoken opponents to Fayetteville’s Civil Rights Administration ordinance, according to public records reviewed by The Fayetteville Flyer.

Michelle Duggar also helped out by recording a robocall claiming the ordinance would allow “males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.”

Problem is, that doesn’t appear to be true. “This is legally wrong and has never been reported by officials in 12 states with non-discrimination laws on the books from as far back as 1993,” read a statement issued by the Human Rights Campaign after the vote.


The repealed nondiscrimination ordinance banned “unfair discrimination based on real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, gender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 ordinance initially passed the City Council in 6-2 vote in August but opponents of the bill gathered enough votes to put the anti-discrimination law up for a vote.


Opponents argued the civil rights ordinance was a threat to women because it would allow transgender women to use women’s restrooms.

“This ordinance will allow males claiming to be transgender into all accommodations of the female sex, including bathrooms, changing areas, showers, locker rooms and overnight shelter areas such as in women’s shelters,” read the website


Fayetteville is home to the state’s largest university, the University of Arkansas. The city is home to close to 80,000 residents, according to the 2013 Census data.

The vote to repeal the anti-discrimination ordinance passed by less than 500 votes. Final unofficial results showed 7,523 votes (52 percent) for repeal and 7,040 votes (48 percent) against repeal, according to The Fayetteville Flyer.


"This is the first round, but it won't be the last round," said Mayor Lioneld Jordan, who has publicly endorsed the ordinance. "I would have liked to have seen it go differently, but that doesn't mean we can't go back and try something again eventually."

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