LITTLE ROCK — (02-03-19) — Arkansas Supreme Court ruled last Thursday, that the city of Fayetteville can’t enforce LGBT protections based on its ordinance banning discrimination on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The state Supreme Court unanimously reversed a Washington County judge’s decision to allow Fayetteville to continue enforcing its anti-discrimination ordinance while the city challenged the constitutionality of the state’s 2015 law preventing cities and counties from enacting protections not covered by state law.

“Because the circuit court exceeded its jurisdiction on remand, its actions following remand are void,” wrote Justice Robin Wynne. “The order denying the preliminary injunction is reversed, and, because the sole issue over which the circuit court properly had jurisdiction was conclusively decided by this court in our 2017 opinion, the matter is dismissed in its entirety.” said Justice Wynne.

The State Supreme Court further added:
″(Fayetteville’s ordinance) violates the plain wording of Act 137 by extending discrimination laws in the city of Fayetteville to include two classifications not previously included under state law,” the court said. “This necessarily creates a nonuniform nondiscrimination law and obligation in the city of Fayetteville that does not exist under state law.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R), argued against the ordinance and said immediately released a statement following the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling:

“Today’s unanimous decisions reaffirm the state’s authority to ensure uniformity of anti-discrimination laws statewide and to prevent businesses from facing a patchwork of nondiscrimination ordinances,”  said Leslie Rutledge, “These decisions show that the city of Fayetteville is not above or immune from State law.” said Rutledge.

However, Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams said he disagreed with the court’s ruling and will now focus on challenging the anti-LGBTQ discrimination law’s constitutionality in the lower court.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, only sixteen states and the District of Columbia have non-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity covering employment, housing, public accommodations, credit and insurance.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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