Last night, the Conway City Council successfully voted to add “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information” to its rules against discrimination of city employees. The aldermen who represent my ward, Mark Ledbetter and Mary Smith, voted against the measure. I sent the following email to them this morning.

Local article regarding the vote  |  Full ordinance

Here’s the relevant portion of the ordinance (click to enlarge):

City Ordinance Snippet

The letter:

Mary and Mark,

Both of you represent me on the Conway City Council. I’m saddened to hear of your dissenting votes on last night’s measure ensuring non-discrimination protections for city employees without regard to “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information” in addition to the protections already guaranteed by the city.

Protecting citizens and city employees from discrimination of any kind is table stakes for our civic leaders. In voting against this measure last night, you have failed to serve your constituents at the most fundamental level.

I urge you to reconsider your position on this issue and any similar measures brought to vote by the Conway City Council. It is my hope that you will work to ensure that the City of Conway actively works against discrimination of any city employee, citizen, or visitor for any reason. I request that the Council consider a broader non-discrimination measure that protects all citizens and visitors in Conway.

Everyone should feel welcome in our growing city. As we seek to encourage job growth in the high-tech sector and continue to support our city’s three universities, we should welcome diverse groups of workers and professors. This diversity will position us with a strong work force to help our city grow and educate. This diversity will increase the quality of life for all Conway residents.

Thank you for your time and for your service to the citizens of Ward 3 in Conway.
(This message and any responses will also be posted online at

Geoff Ryken

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The following resolution was adopted by the Presbytery of Arkansas at its 128th stated meeting on February 21, 2015.

Whereas Jesus instructs his disciples to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’; and,

Whereas the Presbytery of Arkansas respects the dignity of every human being; and,

Whereas the Presbytery of Arkansas has previously voiced its opposition to the destruction or denial of civil rights based on any prejudice, whether it be based on race, religion, nationality, country of origin, gender or sexuality, and

Whereas we believe religion must never be invoked so as to cloak discrimination;


that the Presbytery of Arkansas, at its 128th Stated Meeting, declares its opposition to Arkansas House Bill 1228, allowing discrimination based on religious conviction, particularly intended to target gay, lesbian, and transgender people as well as others; and against Senate Bill 202, barring localities from passing anti-discrimination laws. We ask the Governor to use his power to veto this legislation.

Presbytery of Arkansas


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