A robocall placed to area voters at around noon Monday is urging residents to speak out against Fayetteville’s proposed anti-discrimination ordinance.
The call is narrated by Michelle Duggar and paid for by freefayetteville.org, a URL that redirects to the Arkansas Family Council website.
In the call, Duggar references an anti-discrimination proposal that’s set to be voted on Tuesday by Fayetteville City Council members.
The proposal, brought forward by Alderman Matthew Petty, would appoint a city staff member to field complaints from residents who feel they’ve been discriminated against during housing transactions, employment decisions, and other public accommodations in Fayetteville.
State and federal laws prohibit some discrimination, but in Arkansas, a person can be fired for being gay or evicted for no other reason than being a transgender tenant.
Alderman Petty said he’s trying to change that, at least in Fayetteville.
“No one should be denied employment, housing, or public accommodation simply because of who they are,” said Petty.
If the proposal is approved, landlords and business owners could be investigated and prosecuted for unjustly evicting or firing someone because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic background, marital status or veteran status.
“That’s why I brought this forward,” said Petty. “I’m against discrimination and it still happens in Fayetteville. I have taken a lot of heat because I refuse to expose anyone who has talked to me about what they have experienced, but those stories aren’t mine to share. I am confident that on Tuesday night we will hear from the people who have experienced it. I believe their courage will give the council the courage we need to do the right thing.”
The bathroom argument
In the call, Duggar echoes the claims of several local pastors and residents who flooded the City Council chambers on Aug. 5 to speak out against the ordinance.
Jeremy Flanagan, pastor at Pathway Baptist Church in Fayetteville, said protections based on gender identity could lead to women going topless at public swimming pools, men using women’s restrooms, or women entering men’s dressing rooms. He also said if the ordinance is passed, it would be “opening a door” for pedophiles and sexual predators who wish to abuse people.
Duggar offered more of the same.
“I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want 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,” said Duggar. “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.”
Petty said Monday the ordinance won’t give predators a defense for their actions.
“I am sure that some of the concerns out there are held in good faith, but the organizations perpetuating this fear know the truth,” said Petty. “They are spreading this misinformation because they are skilled political strategists and they believe it is an effective proxy for their bigotry.”
Tuesday’s City Council meeting is expected to attract many residents – both in support and those in opposition – to speak during the public comment portion of the discussion. Aldermen tonight will consider moving the meeting to a larger venue – possibly to the nearby Fayetteville Town Center – to accommodate the expected large turnout.
Hello, this is Michelle Duggar. I’m calling to inform you of some shocking news that would affect the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children. The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men – yes I said men – to use womens and girls restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only. I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want 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. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child. Parents, who do you want undressing next to your daughter at the public swimming pool’s private changing area? I still believe that we are a society that puts women and children first. Women, young ladies and little girls deserve to use the restroom or any other facility in peace and safety. Will you speak up for protecting women and children? Call 575-8330 and tell the Fayetteville City Council members and Mayor Jordan to vote ‘no’ on ordinance 119. The number again is 575-8330. For more information please go to www.freefayetteville.org. Paid for by freefayetteville.org.
1998 Human Dignity Resolution
Petty’s proposal is similar to a 1998 measure that would have prohibited the city from discriminating against homosexuals when hiring or firing city employees.
The council voted 6-2 to approve the policy, known as the Human Dignity Resolution. Following the vote, then-Mayor Fred Hanna vetoed the proposal. Two weeks later, the council overturned Hanna’s veto.
A group called Citizens Aware mobilized to collect enough signatures to put the proposal on the Nov. 3, 1998 ballot where it failed, 58 percent to 42 percent.
Video – Human Dignity Resolution (council approval)
Video – Human Dignity Resolution (veto overturned)
Videos: YouTube / Don M. Burrows