Republican Representative Charlie Collins, who voted this month for a bill to ban cities and counties from enacting LGBT anti-discrimination laws, explained his vote for 30 minutes Friday on KABF’s “Big Gay Radio Show.” Collins told host H.L. Moody his vote was based on what he perceived as economic harms in a short-lived ordinance in Fayetteville. Collins said taking away local control was a difficult decision.
COLLINS: “I would just look at you and I would stare at the ground and I’d say, ‘I’m sorry that we had to have such a heavy handed response.’ But in my view it was the only option available to protect the people of Fayetteville and the businesses of Fayetteville from the tremendous overreach of an ordinance like 119. And that’s not a very good answer [interrupted].”
MOODY: “No it’s not a good answer and I’ll tell you why, because it seems to me like you do actually have another option and that would be to present a better bill.”
The ordinance in Fayetteville sought to protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation. The city council drafted and approved the measure but voters then repealed the effort. Moody asked Rep. Collins why local control for issues such as alcohol was appropriate but not for issues of discrimination.
MOODY: “It only seems to be when LGBT people are brought into it that there seems to be an issue on a statewide level. Why is that?”
COLLINS: “I think that you’re making a blanket statement when I would actually think it’s a narrower statement. I think there was a very specific and difficult and unpleasant situation that happened in Fayetteville where the legal disruption to the business environment happened to be attached to that group.”
Moody argued the existing law allowing an employer to fire an employee for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender poses an economic threat to LGBT citizens as well as companies considering locating in a state that doesn’t offer protections to all of its employees.
Collins’s vote has risen in prominence after a gay sibling repeatedly spoke out against his brother’s vote to national media outlets.
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has said he will not veto the bill but will not sign it either. The bill would eventually become law without the governor’s signature.