Arkansas AG to appeal ruling upholding local anti-discrimination ordinance

Arkansas AG to appeal ruling upholding local anti-discrimination ordinance

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge [official website] on Wednesday filed a notice of appeal [text, PDF] of a judge’ s decision upholding a Fayetteville ordinance [text, PDF] that protects members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from discrimination. At issue is whether such ordinances violate the Arkansas Interstate Commerce Improvement Act [official summary], which prevents the creation of new protected classes. The state of Arkansas does not currently view the LGBT community as a protected class, nor does it allow for special ordinances or municipalities to grant them such protections. The state is appealing as an intervenor in the case because they the believe the appeal is determinitive upon the the interpretation of the Improvement Act.

The intersection of religious liberty and sexual orientation and gender identity has been a controversial issue in the US. Earlier this week Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said that he would veto [JURIST report] a religious freedom bill [HB 757, text] that critics claim would sanction discrimination against LGBT individuals. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday vetoed [press release] a similar bill. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper [official profile] on Tuesday stated [JURIST report] during a press conference that he will not defend House Bill 2 [materials], which he considers to be discriminatory against the LGBT community. That legislation specifically prohibits local municipalities from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances.