Arkansas Civil Rights

A group representing downtown Little Rock's businesses is calling on Arkansas' governor to issue an order extending workplace anti-discrimination protections to gay and lesbian state employees.

 

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership's board of directors on Friday called on Gov. Asa Hutchinson to issue an order protecting employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Hutchinson, a Republican, had floated the idea last week as he called for changes to a religious objections measure.

 

HRC Arkansas Director Kendra Johnson, HRC President Chad Griffin speaking at the Capitol next to an ad the organization is running.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas’s Legislature stands in recess but not without drawing national attention over a “religious freedom” bill deemed by some to sanction discrimination against the state’s LGBT population.

KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman sat down with Kendra Johnson, the director of Human Rights Campaign Arkansas to talk about next steps for the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group.

HB 1228 bill sponsor, Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) after the committee vote.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas House is poised Tuesday afternoon to vote on a nationally watched bill that proponents say advances "religious freedom" and opponents deride as sanctioning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. 

The decision on the House floor comes in the wake of Indiana enacting a similar law. In Arkansas, as in Indiana, a number of the world's largest corporations have or are threatening to boycott the states. 

Several more announcements were made Tuesday from industry leaders.

NASCAR

HRC Arkansas Director Kendra Johnson, HRC President Chad Griffin speaking at the Capitol next to an ad the organization is running.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

A number of high-profile business figures are calling on Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) to veto a bill supporters describe as a "religious freedom" measure that on Friday passed the Arkansas Senate. Opponents say it allows religious belief to be used as a defense for discriminating against LGBT people in housing, employment, and both public and private accommodations and services.

Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out this tweet:

An Arkansas House committee has endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to reinstate a voter identification law. The committee on Friday advanced five proposals to a joint committee that will consider which ones should be placed on the 2016 ballot.

A community forum held January 26th on possible state intervention.
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

State-control of the Little Rock School District or any district whose school board has been dissolved could look very different under a bill in the Arkansas Legislature. Still in its beginning stages, the legislation authorizes state-run districts to be administered by non-profit, private education companies.

KABF "Big Gay Radio Show" poster with Charlie Collins
facebook.com/biggayradioshow / KABF

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.

LaVerne Bell-Tolliver
www.hisdreamourstories.com

While the history of the integration of the Little Rock School District is largely overshadowed by the 1957 crisis at Central High School, 25 young African-Americans also faced daunting challenges in following years when they desegregated the city’s junior high schools.

On Saturday, many will be sharing their stories, some for the first time publicly, as part of the celebration of African American history month.

Nate Bell
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

A second attempt in the Arkansas Legislature to decouple the joint state holiday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King Jr. failed in the House State Agencies Committee Wednesday after a tense hearing.

“The people who support this bill have been somewhat silent. There is a lot of intimidation up there," said the bill's sponsor Representative Nate Bell.

Eureka Springs Passes Anti-Discrimination Ordinance As Legislature Considers Ban

Feb 10, 2015
bart hester
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

   

A bill that would prohibit cities and counties from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances not reflected in state law is now headed to the Arkansas House. It was passed Monday in the Senate by a vote of 24-8.

The bill’s introduction by Republican Sen. Bart Hester followed the passage, then repeal of a local ordinance in Fayetteville that included protections for people based on gender identification and sexual orientation.

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