A city ordinance in Fayetteville, Ark, dubbed the transgender bathroom bill because it allows biological males who claim they are females to use restroom facilities for women, was overturned on Tuesday, Dec. 9, largely because of the intense lobbying efforts of Michelle Duggar, the matriarch of the reality-TV show 19 Kids & Counting, carried by The Learning Channel.
In Tuesday’s special election the rule, also called the Civil Rights Ordinance, was defeated: 7,523 votes to 7,040 votes, a 52% to 48% victory.
In criticizing the ordinance, Mrs. Duggar had said that it affected “the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children” because it would “allow men – yes, I said men – to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only. I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.”
In its legal-language, the ordinance said: “Whereas, the City of Fayetteville seeks to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to be free from unfair discrimination based on real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, disability and veteran status; and … to promote the public health and welfare of all persons who live or work in the City of Fayetteville and to ensure that all persons within the City have equal access to employment, housing, and public accommodations.”
In reaction to Mrs. Duggar’s opposition to the ordinance, a left-wing petition was launched at change.org with the headline “End LGBTQ fear mongering by the Duggars.” The petition said “Duggar words reek of ignorance and fear mongering,” and said transgender people “deserve to have the ability to use the bathroom in peace and safety.”
The petition called upon the Learning Channel & Discovery Networks to cancel the highly popular Duggar family show, 19 Kids & Counting. As of Dec. 10, the change.org petition had 177,811 signers.
On the other side, conservatives and specifically Life Site News launched a petition in defense of the Duggars called a Life Petition.
That petition said “liberal extremists have launched a full-scale attack on the Duggars, demanding that The Learning Channel cancel the Duggars' popular reality TV show. Their reason? Michelle Duggar openly opposed an extreme 'transgender' bill in Fayetteville. The bill would have given biological males who say they are women the right to use women's bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and other female-only facilities!”
The Life Petition also included a note to The Learning Channel expressing support for the “right of the Duggars to express their traditional family values, which they have always done with love and compassion, and which simply reflect the beliefs of the majority of Americans.”
As of Dec. 10, the pro-Duggar Life Petition had 208,408 signatures.
As for the ordinance being overturned, pastor Duncan Campbell told Fayetteville’s Channel 5 News, ““We wanted to repeal the ordinance because we didn’t believe it made Fayetteville a fairer city or a freer city,” he said. “It did just the opposite. It was called the Civil Rights Ordinance, but it was misnamed. It was an ordinance that actually took away civil rights and freedom from people. It criminalized civil behavior. It didn’t accomplish the stated purpose of the ordinance and it was crafted by an outside group, it wasn’t something Fayetteville residents put together.”
Anne-Garland Berry, who supported the rule, said of it being overturned by the voters, “I think [the loss] means that we have a lot of work to do. We haven’t had the conversations we needed to have. We haven’t persuaded the people we needed to persuade. So my goal for our team and those of us here and in other parts of Arkansas and in other parts of the south and in this country is [that] we should have more conversation.”