All eyes today are on Eureka’s election on Ordinance 2223, but there’s also a vote planned on another nondiscrimination measure at the Pulaski County Quorum Court.
The quorum court is supposed to take up an anti-discrimination ordinance this evening that basically mirrors the ordinance passed by the Little Rock City Board in April. Little Rock’s ordinance forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in regards to the city’s employees, as well as the employees of companies that do business with the city. The quorum court’s ordinance would do the same for Pulaski County employees and companies that do business with the county.
Like the city’s ordinance, it’s effectively more a matter of symbolism than of practical consequence — but on the charged issue of LGBTQ rights in Arkansas, symbolism matters right now.
Passage among the quorum court’s 15 Justices of the Peace is not a foregone conclusion, but Tyler Denton, a District 2 JP sponsoring the measure, said he thought the votes were there. (Here’s the quorum court membership.)
“At the end of the day, I think when you consider the ordinance on its merits and see that we want to be more inclusive, I think most people will come down on the right side of this,” Denton said. If opposition materializes against the ordinance, he said it would be due to “confusion” about the issue.
“This ordinance has nothing to do with gay marriage. This is a non-discrimination ordinance, nothing more, nothing less.
“This non-discrimination ordinance only impacts our employee practices — the hiring process. It impacts the services that Pulaski County offers, and it impacts the vendors with whom we do business. … We’re not trying to tell people what they can and cannot do. We’re not trying to tell businesses what they can and cannot think. We’re simply trying to say that as a county, Pulaski County will not discriminate. In my opinion, that mindset is not only morally correct, it’s good for business.
“Any person who is classified under one of these classes, which is basically every person living in Pulaski County, they all pay taxes. As a taxpayer, I think you’re equally deserving of protection against discrimination. This is not a referrendum on gay marriage. This is simply a proclamation that Pulaski County wants to have more families living in Pulaski County, we want more people to run a business or do business with Pulaski County, and that we will not discriminate.”