FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Christian Examiner) — The residents of Fayettville, Arkansas, voted in a 52 to 48 percent split to overturn Ordinance 119, which was a non-discrimination policy that allowed transgender men and women to use the public bathrooms of their choice, regardless of their born gender. Opponents complained that voters were influenced by the robocalls of Michelle Duggar, the "19 Kids and Counting" matriarch, who was firmly against the legislation and supported its overturn.
Michelle Duggar voiced her opinion of the controversial citywide policy late this summer in series of pre-recorded calls. She stated that "males with past predator convictions that claim they are female" continue 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," the Christian mom said.
She joined with advocacy group Repeal 119, who said the legislation could "put businesses in danger of being criminally charged for the complaints of a disgruntled employee."
However, the Duggars have come under fire from liberal opponents, with Salon.com calling recalling measure "hateful" and "trans-phobic." When her husband Jim Bob posted on Facebook last week about God's design for marriage as "between a husband and wife for a lifetime," critics created a petition to cancel their TLC show, and have amassed about 179,000 signatures so far.
A rival petition supporting the Duggars has drawn 209,000 signers, and many of Fayetteville's citizens support the Duggars' conservative values.
One local minister, Duncan Campbell, said that Ordinance 119 wasn't about discriminating against LGBT communities, but an outside entity imposing their ideas on the city.
"We wanted to repeal the ordinance because we didn't believe it made Fayetteville a fairer city or a freer city," Campbell told Fayetteville's Channel 5 news. "It did just the opposite. It was called the Civil Rights Ordinance, but it was misnamed. It was an ordinance that actually took away civil rights and freedom from people. It criminalized civil behavior.
"It didn't accomplish the stated purpose of the ordinance and it was crafted by an outside group, it wasn't something Fayetteville residents put together," he added.
Ordinance 119 "prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, real estate transactions, city services, business transactions and public accommodations based on race, ethnicity, national origin, age (if 18 years of age or older), gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, disability or veteran status."
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar live in Tontitown, Arkansas, and their reality show has been on TLC since 2008.