Arkansas' Supreme Court said a city can't enforce its ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The reason? The court stated it already ruled on the measure and it violates a state law aimed at preventing local protections for LGBTQ people.
Fayetteville wanted to enforce its anti-discrimination ordinance and at the same time challenge a 2015 Arkansas law preventing cities and counties from enacting protections not covered by state law. Why would Fayetteville take such action then? Arkansas' civil rights law doesn't cover sexual orientation or gender identity.
So on Thursday, the court just reiterated the ruling that the Fayetteville protections went against state law, but they DID NOT rule if the state law was unconstitutional. You know, the one banning cities, towns, and counties from offering more protections to other citizens, or let's just call it what it is, the state is okay with banning equal protection to LGBT citizens.
Fayetteville is one of the major blue dots in a red state and its City Attorney Kit Williams said he would likely ask the court to reconsider its shooting down of his city's protection laws and said the city's argument that the law is unconstitutional remains undecided.
But what does the other side think? Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a Republican who had argued against the ordinance, said:
Today's unanimous decisions reaffirm the state's authority to ensure uniformity of anti-discrimination laws statewide and to prevent businesses from facing a patchwork of nondiscrimination ordinances. These decisions show that the city of Fayetteville is not above or immune from State law. – nbcnews.com
Williams said, "The city has never had an attempt to defend a citizen-passed ordinance by showing that the state law was an unequal protection of the laws. It seems very strange that they would deny us the right to at least present that constitutional argument to them for their decision."
Note: Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have non-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity covering employment, housing, public accommodations, credit and insurance, according to the Human Rights Campaign.