Selling Flowers

IMG_9639If you see people at Fayetteville’s Farmers Market walking around with fistfuls of boisterous lilies, pale puffs of virburnums and other bright flowers, chances are they came from the Dripping Springs Garden stand, where there’s always a line for the blooms and organic vegetables. A woman there named Nancy has bundled blossoms, matched up customers and available workers and overseen the swarm for more than 20 years. She has a quick smile, keen eyes, a lined face, flyaway hair and a bright gingham dress, so I asked to take her picture.

IMG_9647Yesterday was a solid market day, bright and warm and crowded. Down the block from the flower stand, another swarm gathered around a row of painted doors.

IMG_9594An Arkansas artist named V.L. Cox painted them, and apart from the bold colors and messages on those doors, I suspect they also drew a crowd because Fayetteville is still working through a years-long debate on the proper rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; an election on whether to punish discrimination against them in their workplaces and homes is coming up next month.

Anyway, have some more photos.

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IMG_9586Thanks for looking! And have a good Sunday.

 

No Union More Profound

_C1_8850Fayetteville’s Pride Parade couldn’t have had better timing.

A storm-carrying cold front yesterday left behind absolutely flawless weather for today. And you might have heard yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that states’ same-sex marriage bans cannot stand under the 14th Amendment’s command of equal treatment by the law.

“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority decision. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

I’d say the parade itself was two or three times as big this year as last, with people of every age and rainbow flags in every direction; organizers say more than 2,000 people attended, a record.

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_C1_8901Friday’s ruling means two non-related adults of any gender can legally commit themselves to each other and enjoy such rights and responsibilities as jointly filed taxes, shared child custody and unquestioned hospital visitation, medical and familial rights. As Kennedy said, it also means something a bit more intangible, right? The joy among the decision’s supporters was immediate here in Arkansas and across the country.

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_C1_8985Concern, anger, even fear quickly followed as well. The four dissenting Supreme Court justices gave grave warnings the ruling would be used to “vilify” the people who oppose same-sex marriage for religious and moral reasons, and other writers and public figures took up the alarm.

Their words and feelings are very serious, as is much of the history around issues of sexuality. For much of U.S. history, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and otherwise non-straight people have been bashed, killed, rooted out of government and private-sector jobs and kicked out of families, if they dared reveal themselves at all. These problems are less common, but they remain in some form, despite credible research that finds orientation isn’t consciously chosen.

Many conservative Christians (many Christians support the decision) see themselves as having lost some of their sway over policies like civil marriage as more and more people personally know someone who isn’t straight. The Supreme Court decision essentially says religious objections alone aren’t enough to justify public government’s marriage policies.

The U.S. is still mostly Christian, and discrimination based on religion in business or government is explicitly illegal except in limited circumstances. That’s not true in most states for LGBT people, including in Arkansas.

Anyway, on with the photos.

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_C1_9141I hope it was a happy and love-filled day for you, wherever you stand. Thanks for looking!

Dan

Summer’s End

_C1_1424Fall begins Tuesday and highs in the 90s have vanished from the forecast. With summer’s end come fall sports, politics, shorter days and more pants. I tried getting a sample of these changes this week.

I’ll start with the boys surfing cardboard, above. The Razorbacks once again trounced their opponent, and a celebration for parents and families meant a bit more activity around the student union, including some singing along to classic rock covers:

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_C1_1452Also on Saturday, the opponents of Fayetteville’s anti-discrimination ordinance turned in more than enough petitions to bring the ordinance to a public vote. The law protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from being fired, evicted or turned away from a business because of their identity, along with a few other groups. (I took some photos outside the City Council’s vote on the law here.)

The opponents question whether such discrimination is a problem and say the law takes away from business owners’ rights. If enough of those signatures are verified in the next week or two, the vote would probably come in December or January.

These next several weeks will bring plenty more politics for us to cover, so wish us luck.

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_C1_1298All right, that’s enough news for this post. The rest I’ll devote to summer’s fading light.

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_C1_1258The Bikes, Blues & BBQ Motorcycle Rally begins Wednesday and looks to bring a few hundred thousand people to the region. Surely I’ll get at least a couple of photos from the crowd for next time, right?

Thanks for looking!

Dan

 

A Line Down the Block

_C1_9167Fayetteville’s City Hall is packed tonight as hundreds of people line up to give their opinions on a civil rights proposal that has stoked controversy for weeks.

The situation essentially is this: It’s not explicitly illegal to fire or evict someone for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Arkansas (and most other states). The ordinance would change this in Fayetteville by treating sexuality and gender identity as a protected class, like race or religion. You can sue someone who doesn’t hire you because of your race, for example. Many people, in Fayetteville and elsewhere, oppose protecting LGBT people in this way.

Fayetteville’s City Council unsuccessfully tried to pass a similar ordinance back in 1998; tonight, the council is trying again. At previous meetings on the topic, comments from the public have been overwhelmingly against the new protections, with many people calling it an attack on religious freedom. Tonight, the crowd appears to be more even, with supporters of the ordinance in red and opponents in blue or purple.

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_C1_9199Inside, the council chambers are so packed that the line stretches down the block to the town square — I went on my own after work, so I didn’t even attempt entering. As soon as someone leaves the city building, someone else takes his or her place. It’s as exciting as city meetings get, and my colleague Joel Walsh will be covering it through the night as every person in line gets a chance to speak.

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We likely won’t know how it turns out until very late this evening or sometime tomorrow morning.

Thanks for looking,

Dan

UPDATE: The ordinance passed 6-2, but its future is definitely up in the air. Several candidates for City Council this November are running specifically in opposition to the ordinance. Signatures from only 4,100 people, or one in 20 Fayetteville residents, are needed to bring the ordinance up to a public referendum. Stay tuned.