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US: HRC survey reveals extent of discrimination against LGBT in Arkansas

Tatiana Herrera July 29, 2014

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), released the largest survey conducted of its kind on Arkansas’ LGBT community this Monday.

The survey cites rampant discrimination in the workplace, schools, and public establishments with a fourth of all respondents reporting employment discrimination.

HRC notes that 45% of those surveyed experienced harassment of some sort at school, with 44% saying that harassment was most common in high school.

A full third of LGBT students in rural areas reported being harassed on a weekly basis at their schools.

A New York Time study released last year named Arkansas along with Mississippi and Alabama as the three least tolerant states towards the LGBT community.

None of these states have laws to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination, so HRC launched Project One America.

The three-year initiative launched earlier this year as a part of an $8.5 million (£5m) campaign to promote LGBT equality in Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Project One America director Brad Clark said: “LGBT Arkansans are just like their friends and family members — living, working, and volunteering in their communities.

“However, they face harsh realities living in the state they call home. We have a moral responsibility to change that.”

Kendra Johnson, who was just named the state director for HRC Arkansas Monday, says the reality for LGBT rights in Arkansas is not what it should be.

Johnson said: “There are no non-discrimination protections in employment, housing or public accommodations. What does that mean? It means I can be kicked out of a restaurant for simply being a lesbian, or that a gay friend of mine can be fired just for being gay.

“That’s not right, and as Arkansans, we can do better than that.”

Arkansas current pro same-sex marriage court ruling has been stayed pending an appeal.

Just this month an Arkansas couple asked a federal judge to strike down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

The ban had been struck down on 9 May 2014 by Judge Chris Piazza based on the fact that it was unconstitutional. Amendment 83, adopted in 2004, which defines marriage between a man and a woman violates the rights of same-sex couples.

This led hundreds of same-sex couples to marry before the Supreme Court noted that Piazza’s ruling did not mention a statute that prohibits clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples a few days later.

Same-sex marriages in the state ceased, causing Piazza to expand his original ruling, striking down all statutes which bar same-sex couples from marrying.

Following this ruling, on 16 May 2014, Arkansas’ Supreme Court suspended the decision to strike down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, putting the ban back in place despite over five hundred couples already having married.

 

More: Americas, Arkansas, Chris Piazza, hrc, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT rights, supreme court, US

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