Gay rights advocates have scored two victories in Arkansas with the approval of local anti-discrimination measures in the state’s most populous county and an Ozark Mountain tourist town despite conservative opposition.
Opponents have threatened to challenge the ordinances in court, saying they conflict with state law.
In Pulaski County, which includes the state capital Little Rock, the local governing body on Tuesday voted 9-3 to give initial approval to an ordinance barring discrimination in hiring based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The measure faces a final vote on May 26.
The measure also requires vendors doing business with the county to adhere to the same standard. Last month, the city government of Little Rock approved a nearly identical statute.
In Eureka Springs, a popular tourist town nestled in the Ozark Mountains with about 2,200 people including a substantial gay population, more than 70 percent of voters on Tuesday backed an anti-discrimination ordinance. The measure earlier had been adopted by the town council but was subjected to a referendum demanded by religious conservatives.
“Attitudes are changing in Arkansas, just as elsewhere,” said Tippi McCullough, president of the Arkansas Stonewall Democrats, a gay rights organization.
“People are seeing that these measures don’t harm anyone.”
The state earlier this year enacted a measure that prohibits local governments from extending anti-discrimination protection to groups and individuals not already covered under Arkansas statute. Arkansas law does not specifically ban employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In May 2014, Eureka Springs was the site of the first same-sex marriages in Arkansas after a judge declared the state’s ban on them unconstitutional.
Hundreds of couples took their vows there and in Little Rock before the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay against the lower court’s decision and halted the same-sex marriage ruling pending the state’s appeal, which the court has yet to decide.
The Republican-led Arkansas legislature this spring approved a “religious freedom” bill that critics said would allow businesses to deny service to gay people based on religious beliefs.
Pressure from Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, and other corporations along with rallies by gay rights activists prompted legislators to pass a revised version of the measure more closely in line with federal law.
Justice Sotomayor pens scathing dissent to COVID-19 ruling: This ‘will only exacerbate the Nation’s suffering’
Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted her more conservative colleagues for barring New York state from reimposing coronavirus restrictions on religious gatherings.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4, in a late-night emergency ruling, that state officials could not reimpose limits on churches and synagogues to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus, and Sotomayor penned a scathing dissent that was joined by Justice Elena Kagan.
"Amidst a pandemic that has already claimed over a quarter million American lives, the Court today enjoins one of New York’s public health measures aimed at containing the spread of COVID–19 in areas facing the most severe outbreaks," Sotomayor wrote.
Conservative rips GOP ‘turkeys’ for turning Thanksgiving COVID safety measures into a culture-war fight
Writing in The Bulwark this Thursday, Tim Miller says that America should be experiencing a time of national solidarity in the midst of a global pandemic. Instead, "we have a president whose focus is entirely on his effort to perpetrate a fraud on the American public."
According to Miller, Republicans are disseminating a narrative that says coronavirus restriction should be met with a sort of "organized resistance" from individuals and businesses that feel unfairly oppressed. While everyone wants to be with their families on Thanksgiving, "one thing that most people have learned by the time they are adults is that they don’t get to do whatever they want whenever they want."
‘Fox & Friends’ graphic destroys Trump for ‘baselessly’ and ‘falsely’ claiming election was rigged
Viewers of Fox & Friends were treated to a dose of the truth on Thursday when the show admitted that President Donald Trump has "baselessly" and "falsely" claimed that the 2020 election was rigged.
The message to Fox News viewers appeared on the network's ticker graphic that is displayed at the bottom of the screen.
"President Trump phoned into a meeting organized by Republicans in Pennsylvania Wed., baseless claiming that the election was 'rigged' and falsely claiming that he won it 'by a lot,'" the Fox News ticker reported. "Most of Trump's legal efforts to challenge voting procedures in PA, MI and other states have been thrown out and his campaign has not produced sufficient evidence to back up claims of widespread voter fraud."