Fayetteville, Ark. passes LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance

map_of_fayetteville_arEarly Wednesday morning the Fayetteville, Ark. City Council voted 6-2 to approve a measure protecting LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination in public facilities, housing and employment. It also creates a civil rights administrative position, according to NWO.

The city is the first in Arkansas to add such protections. At the state level, Arkansas does not protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

The ordinance was not without its detractors.

BuzzFeed reports that Michelle Duggar of TV’s Nineteen Kids and Counting, a prominent backer of anti-LGBT Republican presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Penn.), blasted a robocall alleging that the ordinance would “allow men — yes I said men — to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only.”

Of the three amendments proposed for the ordinance, two passed. The first amendment extended discrimination on religious grounds to include all tax-exempt organizations. The second clarifies that no one may enter a men’s or women’s restrooms with illegal intentions. The third, which failed on a 6-2 vote, would have called for a referendum vote.

“I see a day when we don’t put tags and labels on people and we’re all citizens under the same umbrella of the Constitution of the United States and we all have the same equal rights,” Mayor Lioneld Jordan said after the vote.

The language also adds protections “from discrimination based on real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, disability and veteran status.”

It goes into effect Sept. 20.

—  James Russell

Eureka Springs celebrates Arkansas marriage equality with a wedding reception

Eureka SpringsMore than 40 restaurants and businesses in Eureka Springs, Ark. contributed to an event described by one local TV station as the first “mass gay wedding reception in the Bible Belt.”

After the Arkansas anti-marriage amendment was declared unconstitutional, about 500 same-sex couples married in the state before a judge placed a stay on the decision.

The reception was held in Eureka Springs to honor those couples that married.

According to another local TV station, the Eureka Springs City Council called on the Arkansas to offer marriage equality.

Michael Walsh put together the event he titled Married to Equality.

“In addition to being the first city in Arkansas where gay people could get married, we’re the first city in Arkansas to throw them a wedding reception,” Walsh told Arkansas Matters.

—  David Taffet

NOM loses, Idaho governor loses and Ark. attorney general loses, so all appeal

Rosenblum.Ellen

Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum

Judges in Idaho, Oregon and Arkansas just didn’t seem to be in the mood to listen to state officials today who didn’t care for their rulings. Virginia rolled out the same old, tired arguments that have been struck down across the country in its appeal to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter seems desperate to prevent his state’s same-sex couples from marrying beginning Friday. The trial judge refused to put a stay on her decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

Otter said he would ask the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay pointing to the “unmitigated disaster” that occurred in Utah after that state’s marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional.

Although he didn’t explain the disaster, he probably meant that about 1,300 couples married in Utah between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a stay. Those couples’ marriages are recognized by the federal government for tax and benefit purposes. Utah announced that it would allow those couples to file joint state taxes as well.

So you can see what a disaster marriage has been in Utah, but with the Supreme Court stay, Otter is exaggerating by calling the disaster unmitigated. The court mitigated the horror of couples filing their taxes jointly and, in most cases, paying more.

The 9th Circuit is not expected to grant a stay to Idaho. That circuit includes marriage-equality states Washington, California and Hawaii and has ruled in favor of marriage equality in the past. However, the Supreme Court is likely to stay the decision until appeals are exhausted. That may take several weeks.

Speaking of 9th Circuit states, Oregon is the latest state whose marriage law challenge has begun. Last week, the National Organization for Marriage filed papers to defend the marriage laws because the state attorney general declined to defend it.

Today, a federal judge declined to allow NOM to participate in the case.

“This is an Oregon case. It will remain an Oregon case,” U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane said.

NOM plans to appeal the judge’s decision to the 9th Circuit as well. The judge cited Hollingsworth v. Perry, better known as the Prop 8 case. That Supreme Court decision last year said interveners had to have standing. An organization can’t intervene just because they don’t like the interpretation of government officials.

Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum is representing the state in the case, but she called the law indefensible.

In Arkansas, the attorney general continues to ask for a stay because of confusion over the ruling. The ruling said the state’s marriage law was unconstitutional. Some county clerks have begun issuing licenses while others have not.

The confusion seems to be among county clerks who don’t seem to want to comply with the ruling, not with the couples who read the ruling and went to the county clerks’ offices and asked for licenses. About 400 couples have married in Arkansas already.

Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee called for the judge’s impeachment.

In Virginia, the state argued that 1.3 million voters passed an amendment. That argument was knocked down earlier this week in Idaho. Virginia also argued the plaintiffs do not have the right to redefine marriage, and they can’t give children a mother and a father.

—  David Taffet

Eureka Springs becomes 1st city in Arkansas to endorse marriage equality

Eureka Springs on Monday became the first city in Arkansas to endorse marriage equality, according to a report from retired journalist Michael Walsh, a resident who authored the city’s domestic partner registry five years ago.

In an email to Dallas Voice, Walsh said he was one of two leaders of a low-profile campaign to persuade the City Council to adopt the marriage equality resolution who spoke in favor of it at Monday’s meeting. Lamont Richie, a former city official and currently a Carroll County Quorum court judge, was blunt about the resolution’s intent.

“This will put you on record as supporting marriage equality,” Richie told the council.

—  John Wright

Lawsuit: Arkansas high school denied black student status as class’ sole valedictorian

On Sunday, same-sex couples began marrying in New York, the sixth state where such unions are legal. It was certainly a big step forward in the battle for LGBT equality. But it seems that every time equality takes one step forward in one place, something happens somewhere else that takes us all two steps — or three, or four — back.

The day after same-sex marriages started in New York, I found this story about a high school principal in McGeHee, Ark., who decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian of the 2011 senior class, even though a black student had a higher GPA and should have been named the class’ sole valedictorian.

(I am not trying to start a debate here about whether the LGBT civil rights movement is the same as the black civil rights movement. I am just saying that there’s a long way to go when it comes to equality for everyone.)

Kymberly Wimberly, 18, got only one B — the rest of her grades were all As — during her years at McGehee Secondary Schools, even though her class schedule had always been loaded down with honors and advanced placement classes, according to a report by Courthouse News Service. Even though, as Wimberly’s senior year drew to a close, she had the highest GPA in the class — something her school guidance counselor had already told her — Principal Darrell Thompson decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian because he didn’t want people to be upset that the school, where a majority of students are white, had a black valedictorian, according to Wimberly and her mother, Molly Bratton.

News reports, by the way, indicate that 46 percent of the student body at McGehee is black. So the white majority isn’t really a big majority at all.

—  admin

LISTEN: Gov. Beebe tells Stonewall Dems that Arkansas shouldn’t recognize their relationships

 

Gov. Mike Beebe became the first governor of Arkansas to address an LGBT group on Tuesday night, speaking to the Stonewall Democratic Caucus of Arkansas. Audio of Beebe’s speech is above.

Gov. Mike Beebe

On the question of relationship recognition, Beebe told the group he isn’t in favor of same-sex marriage or civil unions for Arkansas. Stonewall Arkansas President Eric McDaniel thanked the governor for his honesty.

The governor said he doesn’t believe employers should discirminatio based on sexual orientation, but he stopped short of endorsing a state law prohibiting it.

Someone also asked about a recent case of a family listing a same-sex partner in an obituary in an Arkansas newspaper. The paper removed the partner’s name before printing it. Beebe said he didn’t think a newspaper should be forced to print the name of a partner, even though obituaries in daily newspapers are paid advertisements.

It’s interesting to look at how news outlets in Arkansas treated Beebe’s speech in their headlines. The NPR affiliate referred to the governor speaking to a gay group. The more conservative newspapers touted the governor’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

—  David Taffet

Elton John’s baby is too controversial for Arkansas

UPDATE: Harps Food reports that it has uncovered Elton and his family.
_______________
RadarOnline reports that covers of US Weekly, with Elton John, husband, and their child on it, have been covered up in supermarkets in Arkansas, “to protect young shoppers.”

I’m sorry, I know a number of you are from the South, but why does this bigoted, backwards, narrow-minded behavior nearly always happen down there?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor wants to keep DADT, thinks being gay is a sin

The homophobes are feeling emboldened these days.

On September 21st, two Democrats voted against ending the GOP filibuster of the Defense Authorization bill: Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas.

Looks like Pryor will vote with the GOPers on the filibuster again, because of DADT. He supports that law and thinks being gay is a sin. Via Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times:

You supply the adjectives for U.S. Sens. Lame Duck Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor. I’d asked them for positions on repeal of the ban on gay military service last week. Lincoln repeated the same ringing support for the concept that she’d given shortly before joining Pryor as the only two Democrats joining a filibuster against repeal. She still won’t say she’ll vote for repeal no matter what.

Pryor, who dodged my question entirely, now tells the Democrat-Gazette that he opposes repeal; that he thinks homosexuality is a sin and that he has reservations about housing gay troops with straight troops (as if this hasn’t occurred forever). He’s been fully indoctrinated by the Religious Right’s false arguments — that military chaplains won’t be able to continue to preach morally justifiable discrimination; that gays are just lying in wait to assault straight soldiers if only given the cover of open service. Pryor, at his core, is a Religious Righter, so I get it (though why he’s fiddled around in coming out until now, I don’t know). But what possible reason is there for Lincoln to be hesitant to do right, for once, without the wobble? Take a cue from Brian Muller and woman up, senator.

Brian Muller is an Arkansan who was discharged under DADT. His story was profiled in the Democrat-Gazette. That’s where Pryor expressed his views on DADT and the sin of being gay.

The Democrat-Gazette charges to view online content. So, I paid the $.99 to read the full article. Pryor is a just a right-wing bigot. Despite the thorough Pentagon report, which will be released tomorrow, “Pryor said the armed services should deliberate a bit longer before making any policy changes.” He also said he doesn’t want to be “judgmental,” although “he said he considers homosexuality a sin.”

Pryor is up for reelection in 2012, so he’s basically becoming a Republican. And, we wonder why young kids think there is something wrong with them when a Democrat in the U.S. Senate tells them they are sinners.

Mark Pryor should be ashamed. And, Blanche Lincoln should do the right thing — for a change.

If Pryor won’t vote for cloture on the Defense Authorization bill, he’s putting his homophobia above the needs of our troops and our national security. Also, that means we’ll need three Republicans to get to 60. Mark Kirk got sworn in today, so the Democratic caucus is now at 58.

H/T, Scott Wooledge.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Clint McCance Apologizes for Anti-Gay Remarks, Resigns from Midland School Board in Arkansas

Midland School Board Member Clint McCance told Anderson Cooper that he is resigning from the school board following a firestorm of outrage over remarks he made on Facebook celebrating the suicides of teens who killed themselves after homophobic bullying.

MccanceEllen DeGeneres also spoke to Anderson about the remarks.

Said DeGeneres: "It would not be acceptable if someone used the N-word. When the civil rights movement happened, it took not just the community of blacks to make a change, but white people needed to step in and say this is unacceptable. We cannot tolerate this and treat any citizen with lesser value. And, I think, as a gay person, I would like to personally ask every heterosexual person out there who is appalled by this to – we need your help now. This is absurd and he should resign.”

I'll have clips up once available.

Previously…
Protesters Call for Resignation of Clint McCance [tr]
Anderson Cooper Rips Clint McCance [tr]
Arkansas Midland School District Distances Itself [tr]
Watch: Thomas Roberts Talks to Arkansas Times Reporter [tr] 
Arkansas School Board Member Clint McCance Wants 'Fags' Dead [tr]


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Anderson Cooper blasts Arkansas School Board Member Clint McCance

Anderson Cooper wants us to know the face and name of Clint McCance — and he blasted him. Anderson is becoming quite the activist. He wants McCance to come on his show, but that won’t happen. McCance is a tough guy on Facebook, wishing death on young gay kids. But, he couldn’t stand up to AC. This is definitely worth a watch:

Via The Advocate.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin