Today, HRC vowed to continue fighting for critical protections following news that the city of Texarkana, Ark. voted to repeal its non-discrimination ordinance, taking the city backwards and rolling back the rights of its LGBTQ citizens. The ordinance, which had passed the Texarkana Board of Directors by a unanimous vote early this year with broad-based support from citizens and the business community, was targeted by an onslaught of negative, deceptive rhetoric from extremists with no ties to Texarkana, and who have targeted similar protections across the state.
“The Board of Directors of Texarkana unanimously passed a non-discrimination ordinance earlier this year, after local residents and groups spent months pushing for its passage,” said Kendra R. Johnson, state director of HRC Arkansas. “This ordinance was repealed only because anti-equality individuals came into Texarkana and created a campaign of fear that distorts the reality of the ordinance. We remain committed to ensuring that every LGBTQ Arkansan has full legal protections, with no exceptions.”
When sponsoring the bill, City Director Tim Johnson said the “sole intent” of the ordinance was to put Texarkana in the best position to attract new industry and business. The ordinance protects city employees, vendors, and contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and prohibits discrimination against recipients of city services based on the same characteristics. Since its passage, outside groups and lawyers opposing the measure have distorted the intent and purpose of the law, and used harmful anti-transgender language and scare tactics. HRC will continue to push for comprehensive protections for LGBTQ citizens on a local, city, state and federal level.
In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared toward advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Arkansas continues to work to advance equality for LGBTQ Arkansans who have no state level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations. Through HRC Arkansas, we are working toward a future of fairness every day -- changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.