The following letter from NWA Center for Equality Board President Chaz Allen was published in the September 3rd edition of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
Now is a pivotal moment for Fayetteville. The results of the Sept. 8 election will send a strong message about who we are and what we stand for. From local equality ordinances to policies like those of Wal-Mart and the University of Arkansas, communities, businesses and institutions have increasingly chosen to clearly state that they don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind. It’s time for Fayetteville to do the same.
Ordinance 5781 protects all Fayetteville citizens against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. As the lead organization for LGBTQ residents in Washington and Benton counties, we know the real fear of thinking that you will lose your job, be denied a home, or refused service in a restaurant or store simply because of who you are. It’s just plain wrong for some neighbors to have their rights fully protected while others live in fear of unfair discrimination.
This ordinance is by Fayetteville, for Fayetteville, written with input from local businesses, community leaders, organizations like ours and people just like you. It finds the right balance for our city, correcting criticisms of last year’s ordinance, including fully exempting religious organizations. That’s why the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, religious leaders and elected officials are proud to stand beside us in urging support for Ordinance 5781.
We’ve left too many people at risk for far too long. We can show the world how to balance religious freedom and equal protection for everyone; how to grow local businesses while fighting discrimination; and how to bring a community together for a brighter future. Fayetteville, let’s take this step forward. Please vote for Ordinance 5781.
Editor’s note: Chaz Allen is the president of the NWA Center for Equality board of directors.