One of the state’s largest conservative Christian advocacy groups Arkansas Family Council is pushing back against survey results reporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents experience a high level of discrimination.
The Human Rights Campaign released the results Monday showing over a third of LGBT Arkansans experience harassment in the workplace. Part of their new state office's goal is to advocate for expanding workplace protections and hate crime legislation to include sexual orientation and sexual identity.
Family Council President Jerry Cox sent a release to supporters Wednesday doubting the findings and saying the survey design is meant to inflate concerns of harassment due to sexual identity or orientation.
“As I’ve looked at this you find very few if any instances where people have been fired from their job because of their sexual preference, or where they have been evicted from their house and so forth. And sure, people shouldn’t lose their jobs and they shouldn’t be evicted from their homes but life just simply is not always fair and you can’t pass enough laws to make it that way,” said Cox.
Cox said because the survey’s sample population wasn’t random but targeted within the LGBT community the results aren’t valid. The survey had responses from nearly 1,000 Arkansans.
Even if the survey is not representational of the experience of LGBT residents statewide, it still shows within the sample population that over 360 Arkansans felt harassed at work because of their sexual orientation or identity.
Cox said HRC’s three year, $8 million campaign in three southern states is the latest example of a national organization trying to influence Arkansans.
“The question is: will they be successful in their mission? I think here in Arkansas, especially, people hold the values that they do regarding human sexuality largely based on their religious faith. What this group is really trying to do is to get people to change some deeply held religious beliefs and I think that for them is going to be an uphill battle,” said Cox.
HRC Press Secretary Hubert Tate sent the following statement to KUAR responding to Cox’s critiques.
The survey reflects the lived experiences of LGBT Arkansans. The fact remains that LGBT people in Arkansas have no non-discrimination protections in housing, public accommodations or employment. There are also no state rights to jointly adopt children, and no state protections from hate crimes. In Arkansas, we may have different positions on certain issues, but we can agree that we are all God's children. HRC Arkansas is focusing on creating safe, inclusive environments for all Arkansans and future generations.