Bible Belt Victory As Arkansas Town Upholds Anti-Discrimination Ordinance By Huge Margin

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A rainbow for LGBT rights

Voters in Eureka Springs, Arkansas voted overwhelmingly to uphold the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance on Tuesday. Ordinance 2223, which bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations against people based on their race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic background, won handily 579 to 231 votes.

The ordinance was passed by the Eureka Springs City Council in February, but voters were given the opportunity to overturn it on Tuesday. Yet, despite a concerted effort from Christian fundamentalists to defeat the measure, Eureka Springs residents turned out in droves to support the law. Turnout on Tuesday night was higher than turnout for the November 2014 election. The law was upheld by a huge 71-29 percent margin.

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Kendra R. Johnson, the Arkansas State Director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), issued a statement, applauding the results:

Arkansas cities are leading the way and we hope that Governor Asa Hutchinson is taking notice. Where leadership has failed Arkansans on the state level, local municipalities like Eureka Springs have taken the initiative to ensure that all their residents are rightfully protected from all forms of discrimination. Welcoming all people in our communities makes the Natural State stronger and we praise the local activists who worked tirelessly to make this victory possible. Right now, keeping up the momentum in other cities is imperative, so that every Arkansans can feel safe in their community.

The victory in a Bible Belt town of just over 2,000 people is symbolically significant, especially since the ordinance was upheld so decisively. Eureka Springs is home to the 66-foot-tall Christ of the Ozarks statue. However, the eclectic community is hardly a typical Bible Belt town as it has in recent years, become something of a Bohemian mecca that is unlike any other Ozark town. Nevertheless, the town is still home to many traditionalists as well. Consequently, Tuesday’s election pitted the values of the traditionalists against the progressives, and the progressives won big.

While many Republican-controlled state legislatures and GOP Governors are working hard to pander to intolerant religious fundamentalists by fighting to preserve discrimination, municipalities can fight that trend by passing non-discrimination laws at the local level. The Eureka Springs City Council did just that in February, and on Tuesday the voters in their town gave them a resounding round of applause, voting overwhelmingly to keep that law in place.  It was a convincing victory for equality in a Bible Belt community. There will be many more to come.

14 Replies to “Bible Belt Victory As Arkansas Town Upholds Anti-Discrimination Ordinance By Huge Margin”

  1. I bet the repug state legislators are probably considering a state law to prevent individual municipalities from voting on this issue.

  2. Unfortunately, they already have. Eureka Springs passed their non-discrimination ordinance prior to the state law which takes effect July 22, 2015.

  3. Bravo and Brava Eureka Springs! Just please show up and vote in November 2016 and get rid of the gop.

    Those heartless b@st@rds gop in D.C. just voted to cut infrastructures just after the horrible train accident in PA where hundreds were seriously injured and so far seven are known dead.

    This article gave me some hope that people in one red state do care.

  4. I wonder how they can call themselves Christian Fundamentalists when they fight so hard for values so very, very different from those the Bible depicted Jesus Christ to have.

  5. I pretty much *always* expect howls from them, every day and for any reason. Like someone who thinks yelling english at a non-english speaking person will suddenly make them understand, they think howling their delusions will make rationally sane people believe their delusions too.

  6. Yea! We finally got something right. Eureka Springs is a little blue in a sea of red. It’s the coolest town…full of “old hippies.” I keep saying when enough baby boomers retire we’re going to see a shift in the way so-called seniors vote. After all,we’re the Flower Power generation and we really did start a revolution in the sixties. And, please don’t think all Arkansans are like Huckabee, Tom Cotton and the Duggers. Remember we have Bill Clinton too.

  7. They don’t value anything except money. Therefore, they “worship” an idol. There is a big difference between values (empathy, compassion, honesty, integrity, etc.) and social issues, i.e., gay rights, abortion, gun control, etc. As far as I’m concerned, they can call themselves anything–but their behavior is the opposite of Christ-like.

  8. Speaking as a Christian, I am often disappointed by believers who either pick and choose which aspects of the Bible they follow or disregard, or who mis-apply or re-contextualise those passages or verses they do choose to acknowledge, or alternatively allow others to interpret the text without bothering to either read it or reason it out for themselves. Thus, we have people taking as gospel (pun intended) beliefs, values and actions which in no way reflect the intent, or even, at times, the actual wording of the document they claim to base their faith on…

  9. Laramie Wyoming, the town where Matthew Shepard was beaten to death, passed a law yesterday because the state wouldn’t.

    “The Laramie City Council on Wednesday approved a local anti-discrimination ordinance in the college town where Matthew Shepard’s death triggered nationwide sympathy and brought a re-examination of attitudes toward gays 17 years ago.”

    http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2015/05/13/laramie-leads-wyoming-in-moving-to-protect-gays-lesbians

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