State asks Fayet­teville or­di­nance be blocked

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - RECORDS - AN­DREW DEMILLO

LIT­TLE ROCK — Arkansas asked a judge Fri­day to block en­force­ment of a city or­di­nance ban­ning dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity, months af­ter the state’s high­est court ruled the mea­sure vi­o­lated a law aimed at pro­hibit­ing lo­cal LGBT pro­tec­tions.

Arkansas At­tor­ney Gen­eral Les­lie Rut­ledge and a group op­posed to the Fayet­teville anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion or­di­nance asked Wash­ing­ton County Cir­cuit Judge Doug Martin to is­sue a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion against the mea­sure. The state Supreme Court in Fe­bru­ary re­versed a rul­ing that the or­di­nance didn’t vi­o­late a state law pro­hibit­ing cities from en­act­ing pro­tec­tions not cov­ered by state law. Arkansas’ civil rights law doesn’t cover sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity.

Jus­tices sent the case back to Martin’s court and said they couldn’t rule on the state law’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity since it wasn’t ad­dressed in the lower court. Rut­ledge and Pro­tect Fayet­teville said in the court fil­ing that the fight over the law’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity could take months to re­solve, so the lo­cal or­di­nance should be blocked in the mean­time.

“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 an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion law con­sti­tutes ir­repara­ble harm.”

At­tor­neys for Fayet­teville didn’t re­turn mes­sages seek­ing com­ment late Fri­day af­ter­noon. The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of Arkansas, which rep­re­sents LGBT res­i­dents in Fayet­teville who have in­ter­vened in the case, said it would op­pose the ef­fort to block the or­di­nance.

“Fayet­teville’s or­di­nance has been in place for nearly two years. There is no need for an in­junc­tion against it and we will op­pose their re­quest,” ACLU of Arkansas Le­gal Di­rec­tor Holly Dick­son said.

Fayet­teville is one of sev­eral cities that ap­proved lo­cal pro­tec­tions for les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der peo­ple in re­sponse to the 2015 law. In their unan­i­mous rul­ing in Fe­bru­ary, jus­tices re­jected the ar­gu­ment that Fayet­teville and other cities with such or­di­nances have made that such pro­tec­tions are cov­ered else­where in state law.

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