Baby Steps, Fayetteville

Baby Steps, Fayetteville
Nick BrothersThe Free Weekly Managing Editor

Nick Brothers
The Free Weekly Managing Editor

Congratulations to the LGBT population, and all of Fayetteville with the passing of Ordinance 5781 last week. As many have said, this shows that Fayetteville is a town that’s accepting and is willing take the steps to prove it despite being surrounded by a challenging environment.

Employment and housing protections took a while, but they came and will likely be here to stay. Many people I’ve seen on my Facebook feeds said they were happy about the ordinance passing but ultimately were displeased at how many votes there were against the ordinance and that we even voted at all on civil rights. While I share that sentiment, the reality is if we’re going to implement change it’s going to happen at an “all deliberate speed.”

So, that’s why the headline reads “Baby Steps, Fayetteville.” We can’t change the world overnight, but if there’s dedication to making it better, I’m young and naive enough to believe it’s possible. Part of me is baffled that laws designed to ensure people’s well-being and happiness (which, isn’t that kinda a government’s primary job?) are being so hotly debated. To semi-quote Mayor Jordan, I’ve got to believe the reason why is fear. Fear of the flaws within humans to exploit such well-intentioned laws.

Yet, if we really want this whole democracy thing to work, everyone should be able to speak up. I’m not trying to insinuate that lawmaking is simple and straightforward.

When you’re a parent who doesn’t really pay much attention to politics because they’re busy making a living for their families among other things, I’d imagine seeing a sign saying “Protect your children, vote against!” would be a pretty convincing argument. There were many misconceptions about what the ordinance was about and what it would do. It’s awful how many things were twisted around. This leads me to my next point.

When I was cleaning my kitchen table of random documents, glossy Steak n’ Shake coupon ads and unrequited junk mail addressed to my apartment’s last three tenants — all my apartment renters, ya feel me? — I came across an ad from Protect Fayetteville that was sent out last week to get voters to vote against the ordinance.

At first, I thought nothing of it. Into the trash with ye and the others. But, I paused and thought for a second as I looked over the almost silly stock photos used to demonstrate how the ordinance would “harm” Fayetteville.

I thought to myself. I’m living through history right now. Arkansas, in more than a few ways, is a lot like a ground zero for the current LGBT civil rights movement. This year has been huge. The Supreme Court ruled gay marriage constitutional, Arkansas banned municipalities from passing extended civil rights ordinances and nearly passed a law legalizing discrimination. Both of those were covertly aimed at LGBT people and publicly about protecting religious freedom. To what, discriminate? Then Fayetteville found legal grounds to pass a new ordinance protecting gender identity, put it up to a public vote and now we’re here.

So, I decided to keep the flyer as a memento of the times I lived through. I look forward to the day I can bring it back out, maybe 10, 20 years from now and share it with friends and family of the future generations.

“Wait, you actually voted on people’s civil rights in 2015?” they’ll say.

I’ll sigh, and then say something like, “Yep. It was considered liberal and progressive to do so. A few people condemned the Fayetteville City Council to Hell in public.”

“Wow, that’s crazy. Glad I live in the year 2030. Well, I’m going to go take the Hyperloop to New York for work today. I’ll be back in Arkansas tonight for dinner. Are we still on for that vacation to Mars? I hear they terraformed a lovely tropical environment in the southern hemisphere we should check out.”

Then I’ll shake my head, grin and say something like, “You crazy kids and your space-age gizmos!”

Thanks for reading.

Categories: Commentary