Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Arkansans don't need special civil rights protections, according to the Arkansas legislature and governor. Act 137 of 2015 bars cities and counties from passing ordinances that "create protected classification or prohibits discrimination" on anyone not covered by the state's existing civil rights codes.

Arkansas's Civil Rights Act bans discrimination on the basis of race, religion and other classifications — but not sexual orientation or gender identity. And because several state anti-bullying and domestic violence statutes offer LGBTQ Arkansans protection, opponents say local codes are redundant — codes such as Fayetteville's Ordinance 5781 that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  

State Act 137 also ensures that “businesses, organizations and employers doing business in the state are subject to uniform nondiscrimination laws and obligations.”

But Act 137 has come under judicial scrutiny.

J. Froelich / KUAF

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday morning about whether municipal civil rights ordinances which ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity violate state law. University of Arkansas associate law professor Danielle Weatherby weighs in.

Arkansas General Assembly

A bill to bar counties and cities from enacting inclusive civil rights ordinances passed the Arkansas State Senate Monday afternoon and is currently in the House. The measure is getting flack, however, from the city of Eureka Springs--which passed its own emergency anti-bias ordinance Monday night.

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