The LGBT Community Suffered Another Blow

February 23rd 2017

Kyle Jaeger

The city of Fayetteville, Arkansas, which banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2015, lost the battle to uphold that ordinance in the state's Supreme Court on Thursday.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Fayetteville violated a state law that prohibits cities from implementing protections for groups not included in the state's own anti-discrimination laws, The Associated Press reported.

The state law, which is called the "Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act," calls for uniform statewide anti-discrimination protections, barring any local ordinances from passing laws that create new protected classes. Along with Fayetteville, Eureka Springs, Little Rock, and Hot Springs have each issued their own ordinances challenging the state law and as CBS News noted, "the court’s ruling did not address whether the other local ordinances violate the state law." 

Arkansas Supreme Court

The ruling was handed down the day after President Donald Trump lifted a federal guideline that instructed schools to allow students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. 

Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina are the only states in the U.S. that ban local ordinances from enacting anti-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals.

However, the Arkansas Supreme Court did not weigh in on the constitutionality of that state law in the decision and at a press conference Thursday, Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams said that he intended to fight the state law's constitutionality in a lower court, according to the AP.


Fayetteville attempted to argue that its LGBT protections fell under a broader, anti-bullying law — rather than an anti-discrimination law — but the court disagreed.

The city's anti-discrimination law "violates the plain wording of [the Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act] by extending discrimination laws in the city of Fayetteville to include two classifications not previously included under state law," the court said in its opinion. "This necessarily creates a nonuniform nondiscrimination law and obligation in the city of Fayetteville that does not exist under state law."