Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Suit Challenges Fayetteville, Arkansas Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

In Fayetteville, Arkansas, a group known as Protect Fayetteville filed suit yesterday challenging the city's Uniform Civil Rights Protection Ordinance 5781 which voters are casting ballots on in a referendum this month.  The Ordinance expands civil rights protections to include bans on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and creates a city Civil Rights Commission.  The Ordinance contains an exemption for churches, religious schools and daycare facilities, and religious organizations. Opponents, however, complain that there is no exemption for individual clergy. The Ordinance was enacted after voters repealed an earlier anti-discrimination law last year.  (See prior posting.) According to KFSM News, the lawsuit claims that the Ordinance violates Arkansas' recently enacted Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act that bars counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions from expanding civil rights protections beyond those found in state law. The lawsuit also claims the Ordinance violates freedom of religion and speech.