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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Fayetteville, home to the University of Arkansas, saw its anti-discrimination ordinance repealed in a referendum led by religious conservatives.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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‘Unconscionable’: Trump administration turns a blind eye to price gouging amid the coronavirus pandemic

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The Federal Trade Commission, the federal agency created more than a century ago by President Woodrow Wilson, is supposed to protect consumers, but don’t expect the commission’s Republican majority to step in as our nation’s citizens are searching for hand sanitizer and face masks.

Sandeep Vaheesan, the legal director at the Open Markets Institute, said the FTC has been reluctant to act on complaints about price gouging.

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Trump falsely tweets ‘LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!’ as America begins worst week yet of coronavirus deaths

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President Donald Trump kicked off what medical experts – and his own Surgeon General – have said will be the worst week yet of coronavirus deaths, by posting this wholly false tweet:

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 6, 2020

On Sunday's "Meet the Press" Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned, "The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment. It's going to be our 9/11 moment. It's going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives."

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Giuliani trying to ‘regain relevance’ by advising Trump behind the scenes on coronavirus cures: report

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According to a report in the Washington Post, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is slowly reinserting himself back into White House affairs by advising Donald Trump on possible cures for the coronavirus.

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