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Little Rock officials defy Arkansas state ban, enact anti-LGBT discrimination statute

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The governing board of Arkansas’s capital city on Tuesday adopted an ordinance forbidding discrimination against gays and transgender people in municipal hiring, setting the stage for a legal confrontation with the state government which has banned such regulations.

The ordinance also requires vendors doing business with the city of Little Rock to adhere to the same employment practices.

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The Arkansas legislature this year forbade cities and counties from establishing anti-discrimination codes that do not conform to state law, which includes no specific mention of sexual minorities.

The legislation was widely viewed as a response to the growing acceptance of gay marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide this summer whether state bans on same-sex marriage are constitutional.

With almost no discussion, the Little Rock Board of Directors passed the ordinance by a vote of seven to two.

City Attorney Tom Carpenter said the ordinance was legally defensible and in accord with other state statutes establishing protected classes as well as federal procurement and hiring standards.

There was no immediate comment from social conservatives who had been critical of the proposal and have hinted that a court challenge was possible.

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The gay marriage issue for months has roiled politics in Arkansas, where pressure from major business interests including Walmart stopped the legislature from enacting a religious freedom bill that opponents said would have given the color of law to discrimination against gays.

A similar bill at the same time brought a fire storm of criticism to Indiana.

Also, two members of the Arkansas Supreme Court, including the chief justice, have publicly accused their colleagues of improperly avoiding an appeal of a lower court’s finding that the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

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Fayetteville, home to the University of Arkansas, saw its anti-discrimination ordinance repealed in a referendum led by religious conservatives.

In nearby Eureka Springs, which has a substantial gay population and a reputation for tolerance, a similar ordinance will be tested in a public vote in May.

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(Reporting by Steve Barnes; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)


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MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace erupts over GOP attempt to question Vindman’s loyalty: ‘I’m constantly shocked by the bottomlessness’

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During a roundtable discussion on MSNBC this Tuesday, host Nicolle Wallace slammed Republicans' apparent attempts to call into question Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's patriotism during his testimony in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

"This is the smear campaign against Lt. Col. Vindman," Wallace said. "It is active, it is live, and today it spilled out in this public hearing."

"I am constantly shocked by the bottomlessness of the Republicans' cravennesses in trying to defend Donald Trump," she said later in the segment. "This is an active duty military person sitting there in his uniform talking about his story, but it does not put any brakes in the system on a line of questioning clearly intended to insinuate that he has duel loyalties."

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Trump mounts sexist attack on Pelosi during impeachment hearing: ‘I think the woman is grossly incompetent’

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President Donald Trump attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from the White House on Tuesday.

As impeachment testimony was underway in the House, Trump told reporters in a Cabinet meeting that Pelosi is "grossly incompetent."

The president also said that Republicans are "killing it" in the impeachment hearings.

But Trump took a shot at Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an expert on Ukraine who was testifying at the time.

"I don't know him. ... I never saw the man," he said. "I understand now he wears his uniform when he goes in. No, I don't know Vindman at all. What I do know is that even he said that the transcript was correct."

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‘You ran out of a book signing!’ Donald Trump Jr torn to shreds for questioning Vindman’s heroism

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Donald Trump Jr. questioned the military service of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and was sprayed with venom.

The president's eldest son posted a link to a Federalist article suggesting Vindman is not a dedicated military officer and public servant, a line of questioning which Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) also pursued during an impeachment hearing.

"Let’s Stop Pretending Every Impeachment Witness Is A Selfless Hero," Trump Jr. tweeted, quoting the piece's headline.

Let’s Stop Pretending Every Impeachment Witness Is A Selfless Hero https://t.co/f2Jq7SdxO9

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