The Conway City Council voted to extend protections for LGBT city workers at Tuesday night’s meeting, despite objections by Sen. Jason Rapert and others who spoke out against the change.
The ordinance passed tonight adds the words “sexual orientation,” and “gender identity or expression” to the list of attributes covered in the city’s official equal-opportunity statement, which regulates — among other things — the city’s hiring, promotion, termination, leave of absence, compensation and training policies.
The Log Cabin Democrat reports that the vote was 6-2, with the protections going immediately into effect because the ordinance includes an emergency clause. Alderman Mark Ledbetter and Alderwoman Mary Smith asked for the measure to be tabled to allow for more public comment. Both later voted against the ordinance.
Speaking before the City Council, Rapert reportedly echoed earlier statements that passage of the ordinance would endanger religious freedom. He later took to Twitter to say how proud he was of “very courageous citizens who spoke out against one of the most unnecessary ordinances ever to be passed in Conway, Arkansas.” Approaching midnight, Rapert was still tweeting Bible passages about “wicked rulers,” those “unwilling to obey the Lord,” and “moral rot within a nation” at the rate of about one every two minutes.
So, a dark night of the soul for one Christian Soldier, and one in the Win Column for LGBT rights in Arkansas — a rarity these days. Savor it while you can. You can bet Bro. Rapert and his ilk aren’t going to take this demonstration of common sense and local control lying down.
A lawyer/reader responds to Rapert’s nonsense (and it’s nonsense that becomes received wisdom as religionists claim THEIR rights are infringed if somebody else treats gay people with dignity and respect):
A city employee who objects to the policy can quit. They have no right to the job. Just like I don’t have to shop at Hobby Lobby or Chik-fil-a.
It’s government’s job to protect civil liberties, not deny them. The employees are mere functionaries who are dispensable.