House Bill Aimed At Protecting LGBT People in Civil Rights Act

ARKANSAS — The Arkansas General Assembly is facing a bill that would include LGBT folks in the state’s Civil Rights Act. The bill’s author says it ensures fairness for the LGBT community but one group says it’s not necessary.

State Representative Greg Leding of Fayetteville filed the bill yesterday, looking to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the state Civil Rights Act of 1993.

“Every day, I hear stories about struggles that friends, family members in the LGBT community face here in Arkansas,” Leding said.

That’s why he filed House Bill 1950, aimed at ensuring equal opportunity for folks, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
After Senate Bill 202 banned cities and counties from creating their own anti-discrimination ordinances, Leding hopes his bill can give power back to local governments.

Rep. Greg Leding, (D) District 86: “I do feel as though cities and communities across the state would be able to pass ordinances to support the LGBT community but hopefully if we get the Civil Rights Act amended, there would be no need for those ordinances.”

Arkansas Family Council says LGBT folks haven’t proven that they’re discriminated against and adds that their form of discrimination doesn’t compare to past groups.

“I don’t believe there’s been compelling evidence offered by anyone anywhere in Arkansas that there is widespread discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Family Council. “The Civil Rights law was designed to crush real discrimination. Go ask any African-American that lived through that era. They were put in the back of the bus, they couldn’t vote, they couldn’t eat in restaurants, they couldn’t sleep in hotels, they couldn’t drink in certain drinking fountains. None of these groups that are named in this bill have gone through anything close to that.”

But Leding says it’s the legislators’ duty to serve all Arkansans.

“Each day before session, we put our hands over our hearts and take the pledge and we say liberty and justice for all and I think it’s time we talk about whether or not we mean it,” Leding said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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