FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (BP) — Southern Baptists in an Arkansas city are working to overturn a homosexual-transgender ordinance in what apparently is the opening salvo in a new campaign to enact such legislation in the South.
Voters in Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas, will have the opportunity Dec. 9 to vote on whether to rescind a measure that provides civil rights protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. Fayetteville’s city council approved the ordinance in August, and opponents of the law gathered more than 5,700 signatures within a month to place the measure on the ballot for a special election.
Religious freedom is a major concern for opponents of the ordinance, said a Southern Baptist leader in Fayetteville.
“This ordinance puts those with religious objections to homosexuality within the prosecution powers of the ordinance as they exercise their faith,” Ron Lomax, director of missions for the Washington Madison Baptist Association, said. “A pastor would have to prove to the [government] that his act of ‘discrimination’ was based on a ‘bona fide’ religious or denominational preference and that his act was ‘a necessary result of such a bona fide condition.'”