Arkansas prevents cities, counties from passing LGBT ordinances

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Bart Hester, sponsored the bill prohibiting Arkansas cities and counties from passing LGBT rights ordinances not in line with state laws. | Facebook/Bark Hester

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Christian Examiner) -- As cities across the nation deal with the controversy of local governments passing transgender ordinances the Arkansas House of Representatives voted 57 to 20 on Feb. 13 to prohibit the state's cities and counties from passing such ordinances unless they comply with the Arkansas Constitution and state law.

The move came days after Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, rescinded a 2007 executive order that had previously established a "protected class of rights" for Kansas LGBT state employees.

The Arkansas bill sponsored by state Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) was reported as intending to create consistent statewide policies in order to draw more business and revenue to the state.

According to Hester, the bill sought to curb the implementation of policies granting rights to special classes of individuals not covered in state law,  Huffington Post reported.

"There are many things necessary for stability -- and civil rights need to not be a volatile situation," Hester told Buzzfeed.

Hester added that establishing such legislation ensured members of the LGBT community did not experience greater protections than Arkansas who did not identify with the stated lifestyle.

"We are all singled out for discrimination," Heste said "I am singled out as a politician. I am singled out because I am married to one woman ... I want everyone in the LGBT community to have the same rights I do. I do not want them to have special rights that I do not have."

Also on Feb. 13,  The Baxter Bulletin reported Gov. Asa Hutchinson as announcing the bill would become law without his signature because of concerns regarding the loss of "local contol."

"As governor, I recognize the desire to prevent burdensome regulations on businesses across the state. However, I am concerned about the loss of local control. For that reason, I am allowing the bill to become law without my signature."

Arkansas becomes the second state to take actions to prevent legal chaos arising from individual local authorities preempting state law. Tennessee took similar action in 2011.

Arkansas laws do not recognize LGBT persons as a special class for civil rights protections in employment and housing, but include them in protections granted to all Arkansas citizens.

A separate bill sponsored by Representative Bob Ballinger (R-Hindseville) being referred to as the Conscience Protection Act, allow religious protection for business owners passed the House and heads to the Senate for a vote.


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