KIT WILLIAMS: Fayetteville city attorney proclaims success of civil rights ordinance.

Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams provided an upbeat take on the now officially dead Fayetteville civil rights ordinance for LGBT people in an interview with the Fayetteville Flyer.

The Arkansas Supreme Court declined last week to rehear its decision that a state law prevented Fayetteville from adopting a civil rights ordinance to protect people with different sexual orientation and identity from discrimination in employment, housing and public services.


That’s likely the end of the story, Williams said (though some hope a way could be found to mount a new challenge on an issue the Supreme Court refused to take up — the intent of the legislature to discriminate against gay people.) But reported the Flyer:

Williams noted that after Fayetteville citizens voted to approve the ordinance, not a single case of discrimination had to be heard by the Fayetteville Civil Rights Commission. Williams said it was a sign that no employer, landlord, or shop owner wanted to discriminate or be known to discriminate against LGBT residents.

“Even though the Attorney General, the Legislature and the Arkansas Supreme Court appear to believe in a supposed right to discriminate against our LGBT citizens, it is clear in Fayetteville that such unfair discrimination will not be tolerated even if we cannot enforce an ordinance to protect our fellow citizens,” said Williams.

Williams emphasized that the legislation was sold as an effort to make law uniform, but he said this was just a pretext to prevent cities from protecting LGBT people from discrimination.


He also offered a long-term optimistic view.

Williams compared the support of Act 137 to a sandcastle soon to be washed away by a rising tide. Eventually, he said, “our children will wonder why the Legislature, the Attorney General and the Supreme Court chose to support the dark side of discrimination rather than the hope of equality.”

“The side supporting the right to discriminate think they have won the battle,” Williams said. “But Fayetteville won the peace when we chose hope, not fear; love, not hate; equality, not discrimination.

“The friends and allies of discrimination may not realize that those who seek hope and love and equality do not give up easily; nor will we drop the banner of freedom and justice while any unfair discrimination is inflicted upon our citizens.”

Bravo, Kit Williams. Note, too, that Little Rock and some other local governments have a non-discrimination ordinance. In Little Rock it applies to those who do business with the city. As yet the anti-civil-rights forces such as Attorney General Leslie Rutledge haven’t sued to knock it down.