Fayetteville, Arkansas voters overturned a local ordinance outlawing discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity on Tuesday.
David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement reported that the ballot race came to national attention earlier this year when Michelle Duggar — matriarch of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting — made a series of fear-mongering robocalls encouraging voters to vote against equal rights for LGBT citizens.
Fayetteville residents voted in a 52 to 48 percent split to overturn Ordinance 119, a nondiscrimination law that “prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, real estate transactions, city services, business transactions and public accommodations based on ‘race, ethnicity, national origin, age (if 18 years of age or older), gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, disability or veteran status.”
Duggar joined the effort to overturn the law in late summer, recording robocalls that went out to every phone in Fayetteville in which she described LGBT people as a threat to the community.
Ordinance 119 allowed trans men and women to use the public facilities of their adopted gender, a state of affairs that Duggar described in a call as “males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.”
“I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space,” the mother of 19 said.
Local minister Duncan Campbell told Fayetteville’s Channel 5 News that the right to discriminate against lesbians, gays, trans men and women and bisexuals is a free speech issue.
“We wanted to repeal the ordinance because we didn’t believe it made Fayetteville a fairer city or a freer city,” he said. “It did just the opposite. It was called the Civil Rights Ordinance, but it was misnamed. It was an ordinance that actually took away civil rights and freedom from people. It criminalized civil behavior. It didn’t accomplish the stated purpose of the ordinance and it was crafted by an outside group, it wasn’t something Fayetteville residents put together.”
Badash at New Civil Rights pointed out that the Duggars are also using the newfound wealth from their reality TV series to influence the outcomes of local elections.
“The 19 Kids and Counting family “donated $10,000 toward the campaigns of the three most outspoken opponents to Fayetteville’s new Civil Rights Administration ordinance,” wrote Badash. “The Duggars gave $2,000 to John La Tour, and $4,000 to both Joshua Crawford and Paul Phaenuef,” the Fayettevile Flyer reported October 31. ‘La Tour, Crawford, and Phaneuf have all said they oppose the ordinance and were each listed as contacts on a press release for Repeal 119.'”