Friends report that the Texarkana Board of Directors passed an anti-discrimination ordinance last night by a vote of 7-0.
What’s that they say about Texarkana? Twice as nice?
The ordinance is similar to that adopted by the Little Rock Board of Directors. It includes sexual orientation and gender identity among protected classes in city employment and personnel practices. It also guarantees non-discrimination in services provided by city employees. It says that all city contracts shall include a clause saying that the contracting party will not discriminate.
CORRECTION: I’d earlier included the language of the emergency clause because I liked the sound of it. It was withdrawn before the vote so it was not part of the ordinance approved, so it will be 30 days before the ordinance takes effect. The clause said:
It is important that the City not discriminate in the hiring of individuals to work for the City as employees, and to assure that it does not indirectly discriminate in the hiring of individuals to work on City contracts; and, further, to assure, to the extent possible, that no such discrimination exists is essential to the public health, safety and welfare; an emergency is, therefore, declared to exist and this ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after the date of its passage.
More for Sen. Bart Hester and others in the Republican majority, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson, to get unhappy about. It is yet another exception to the 2015 law by the legislature — allowed to become law by the governor — meant to prohibit local governments from providing equal protection to gay people. The legislature passed — and the governor allowed to become law — an additional measure that nominally allows people to claim a religious pretext for discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. A Fayetteville anti-discrimination ordinance is being challenged in court by advocates of discrimination against gay people. Attorneys in Fayetteville, Little Rock and Eureka Springs, among others, have said the state law was poorly drafted and the local ordinances are allowed both by state law and, more important, by the U.S. Constitution.
The action drew a cheer from Tippi McCullough of the Stonewall Democratic Caucus:
The Stonewall Democratic Caucus of Arkansas commends the city of Texarkana for the unanimous passing of its nondiscrimination ordinance last night. Texarkana now joins Little Rock, Hot Springs, Eureka Springs, Fayetteville, Marvell and Pulaski County with some type of nondiscrimination ordinance while positive steps in the right direction are also being made in Conway and North Little Rock. These NDOs show that diversity is good for business, good for communities, and the right thing to do. These ordinances also show that from north Arkansas to central Arkansas to east Arkansas to south Arkansas, people are moving toward equality which will only make Arkansas more united and stronger.