FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas have repealed a law passed by city council earlier this year that would allow men who identify as women to use womens’ restrooms and vice versa.
By a vote of 52 to 48 percent, residents rejected Ordinance 119 approved in August by the Fayetteville City Council, which voted 6-2 for the controversial measure. In addition to making provision for “transgendered” persons to use the restroom of their choice, the law also prohibited landlords from turning away homosexual couples who sought to cohabitate on their property, banned employers from rejecting homosexual applicants, and disallowed businesses from refusing services that pertained to homosexuality. Non-compliance would result in criminal penalties.
Following the passage of the ordinance, Duncan Campbell, an area pastor, formed a group called Repeal 119 and launched a petition drive that obtained enough signatures to warrant a special election over the matter.
“We wanted to repeal the ordinance because we didn’t believe it made Fayetteville a fairer city or a freer city,” Campbell told local television station KFSM. “It did just the opposite. It was called the Civil Rights Ordinance, but it was misnamed. It was an ordinance that actually took away civil rights and freedom from people. It criminalized civil behavior. It didn’t accomplish the stated purpose of the ordinance and it was crafted by an outside group; it wasn’t something Fayetteville residents put together.”
The Christian legal organization Liberty Council also sent a letter to Mayor Lioneld Jordan to assert that the law discriminated against Christians, noting that bakers, florists and photographers have been punished in other states for declining to facilitate activities that are sinful. It also pointed back to a case in 2012 where police were called on a “transgendered” Washington man who was exposing his reproductive organs in the girls’ locker room. The man cited the state’s non-discrimination ordinance as his basis for protection.
“This CRO (Civil Rights Ordinance) traverses the line between permissible regulation and impermissible burden on the rights of religious business owners throughout the City,” it wrote. “Indeed, the CRO would force churches and other religious entities to permit individuals with a ‘perceived gender identity’ contrary to the biological reality of their birth to use the restroom of whatever gender they identify with on a given day.”
Michelle Duggar of the popular reality show “19 Kids and Counting” likewise participated in a robocall warning residents about the proposal.
“The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that 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,” she stated. “I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.”
But following Duggar’s participation in the campaign, some created their own petition seeking to pull the family’s television show from TLC.
“The claim that this ordinance would provide predators with access to women’s restrooms in order to assault or leer at girls or women is nothing more than fear-mongering and spreading ignorance and hatred,” it read.
However, in a close tally of 7,523 votes in favor of repealing the ordinance and 7,040 votes in favor of leaving it on the books, residents struck down the controversial measure.
“Homosexual activists are intolerant,” commented Liberty Counsel’s Matt Staver in a statement. “The repeal of this radical and immoral law is a clear reminder that when good people unite and pastors speak up, their voices will be heard and they can make a difference. This ordinance sought to criminalize Judeo-Christian values. The American people should wake up and fight to preserve our inalienable right to freedom of conscience.”