A Republican state senator in Arkansas has introduced a bill that would strip all protections from LGBT people in the state.
According to the New Civil Rights Movement, State Senator Bart Hester has introduced an emergency bill, SB 202, which would strike down all nondiscrimination ordinances in the state permanently.
Hester believes that to allow LGBT people to have protections in the workplace and to have legal recourse against cases of discrimination goes too far, granting "special rights" to people who aren't like him.
The 37-year-old GOP official told BuzzFeed that sure, LGBT people get discriminated against sometimes, but these days, "we are all singled out for discrimination.”
“I am singled out as a politician. I am singled out because I am married to one woman,” Hester said. “I want everyone in the LGBT community to have the same rights I do. I do not want them to have special rights that I do not have.”
Hester's bill easily cleared the state Senate and is expected to be ratified by the state House.
The Arkansas ACLU's Holly Dickson told BuzzFeed, "It is likely to pass, and it is likely to be signed by the governor."
The rights organization opposed the bill, Dickson said, because it's "designed to permit as much discrimination as possible in the state.”
Hester has couched his bill in commerce terms, saying that to remove nondiscrimination ordinances in the few places they have managed to take hold in the southern state will make it more amenable to businesses.
“There are many things necessary for stability — and civil rights need to not be a volatile situation,” Hester said. “It’s got to be something we agree on for the entire state.”
Dickson said that the moves by state Republicans have alarmed many in the state who believe in equal protection under the law for all Americans, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“People are very upset,” said Dickson of the ACLU. “As soon as LGBT people get some protections against being evicted or fired just because of who they love, the state is going to absolutely prohibit them from obtaining that sort of protection.”