- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) - Aldermen in the tourist town of Eureka Springs have passed an ordinance outlawing discrimination against gay people.

Eureka Springs aldermen on Monday passed the ordinance making it illegal to discriminate against gay people in matters of employment, housing, business, and public accommodations. They rushed it through three readings so it could become a city law before a bill passes in the state legislature that would make the creation or enforcement of ordinances like it illegal, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1y6C7Ev ) reported.

“We passed the first domestic-partnership law in the state, married the first same-sex couples in the state,” council member James DeVito told the council. “Yet as a community, we don’t have laws to protect those people. So I think it is imperative that we pass this in three readings.”

The ordinance was passed unanimously on all three readings.

But state Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, a sponsor of the state bill in question, said it will trump the law that Eureka Springs passed. It has already passed the Senate.

“That’s exciting for them, but it’s unfortunate,” he said. “It’s not going to work.”

Sponsors of the state bill say it will improve intrastate commerce by ensuring that entities doing business in the state are subject to uniform nondiscrimination laws. They believe it will nullify any civil rights ordinances that cities and towns have passed.

Eureka Springs Mayor Robert D. Berry said he would sign the ordinance Tuesday or Wednesday. It will be the only one of its kind in the state. There is also an emergency clause stipulating that it must go into effect as soon as possible.

Eureka Springs issued the first same-sex marriage licenses in Arkansas in May, and has made health insurance available for domestic partners of city employees since 2011.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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