UPDATE: Eureka Springs voters uphold anti-discrimination ordinance


Early voting results in Eureka Springs show 579 voters (71%) decided to uphold an ordinance to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. 231 people (29%) voted against it.

The ordinance affects private businesses in the city and will take effect in July.


The city of Eureka Springs is voting Tuesday on a city ordinance that would protect lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT) from discrimination.

The ordinance would affect private businesses within the city. The city council passed the ordinance in February, but after some protested, they put the ordinance up for a vote.

The ordinance directly goes against Act 137, set to take effect in July. Act 137 prevents cities and counties from making their own ordinances that prevent discrimination against classes that aren't already protected by the state's constitution, mainly the LGBT community.

Some cities are passing ordinances until July. The cities of Little Rock and Hot Springs have already passed anti-discrimination ordinances that prevent discrimination for city employees and require vendors doing business with the city to abide by the ordinance.

"Contrary to what our esteemed state legislators may think, this is solely within our rights as a city to protect our own people from discrimination. If the state's not going to do it, we have to do it," said a member of the Eureka Springs City Council.

"So far it's been positive is support of ordinance 2223," said Eureka Springs Mayor Butch Berry.

The first county in the state is also joining the anti-discrimination ordinance movement. The Pulaski County Quorum Court is presenting an ordinance similar to Hot Springs and Little Rock at Tuesday's meeting. Those ordinances don't affect private business like the one in Eureka Springs.

"I think morally it's the right thing to do and I think it's a smart business decision for our community," said Tyler Denton, a member of the Pulaski County Quorum Court.

It is likely courts will end up deciding if the municipalities passing their own ordinances will be upheld. Act 137 could also possibly be on the 2016 ballot for the entire state to decide.

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