ARKANSAS: Hot Springs Passes LGBT Rights Bill Despite Statewide Ban

Two weeks ago Arkansas capital Little Rock flipped its middle finger to the state legislature. Last night the town of Hot Springs did the same.

The Hot Springs Board of Directors has passed an ordinance that would prohibit the city and its vendors from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The board voted 6-1 to approve the ordinance Tuesday night. The anti-discrimination ordinance applies to all city departments regarding hiring practices and conduct by city employees. District 3 Director Becca Clark, the sponsor of the ordinance, said it was necessary because it was the right thing to do for business. She said Hot Springs should show that it is welcoming to everyone. Some local legislators, like Republican state Rep. Laurie Rushing, spoke against the ordinance. Rushing said the ordinance promotes discrimination because it doesn’t cover all protected classes. Supporters and opponents of the ordinance gathered for a rally outside City Hall before the vote.

Earlier this year Arkansas joined Tennessee in banning municipalities from including sexual orientation and gender identity in local anti-discrimination ordinances. The votes by Little Rock and Hot Springs officials could set the stage for challenging these bans. A similar ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas was repealed in December after an anti-LGBT campaign led by the Duggar family. Last last month Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge approved a referendum to repeal the statewide ban. Below is a local news report on last night’s vote.