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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two northern Arkansas school boards have temporarily ceased prayer before meetings.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2n3xYoE) reports Springdale and Harrison boards are researching the legality of the public prayers after receiving a letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin. The foundation monitors matters regarding separation of church and state.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET Tuesday

With the stroke of a pen on Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson separated a holiday that has for decades celebrated both Martin Luther King Jr. and Gen. Robert E. Lee in the state.

Under the bill that Hutchinson signed into law, King now has the third Monday of January entirely to himself, as dictated by federal law; Lee will now be commemorated in a state holiday on the second Saturday of October.

Seventeen-year old Daniel Montgomery was born a girl but by age eleven knew he's a boy. He's always stood up for himself at school. He's bravely agreed to come forward to talk on the radio about what it's like growing up transgender in Fayetteville's public school system. But first, we discuss that pink tinge in his dyed blond hair?

“Oh that," he says. "That's way faded. I want to dye it half red, half blue but that’s so time consuming." 

Things are hectic for this high school senior with graduation on the horizon and getting ready for college. He wants to study art and German. He plans to teach high school someday. But right now he's being forced, he says, to reckon with the Trump administration's revoking of federal protections for transgender public school student school accommodations — for example bathroom and locker rooms. Montgomery, of course, prefers to use the boys restroom. And on rare occasion, he says, he's hassled. 

Since November, Mexican consulates around the U.S. have reported an increase in unauthorized immigrants venturing in to seek legal advice and update their citizenship papers in case of possible deportation. 

This morning, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling that upheld the voter-approved city law, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The state's highest court ruled that the city law was in conflict with a state law that prohibits cities from enacting protections not already covered by state law.

There are many lessons to be learned from one of the most infamous tweets in social media history.

“It was like misogyny, within the warm glow of self-righteousness,” said Welch author and filmmaker Jon Ronson.

A legal showdown could be brewing over whether a satanic monument should be allowed on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol.

Legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson after the state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to the bill that would require any monuments to first be approved by the legislature before going to the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission. Current law allows proposals to come through either entity, though they ultimately need legislative authorization.

Talk Business & Politics

Ahab Alammar has lived the American dream. The 28-year-old was born in Syria, but when he turned 13 his family was able to secure him a visa to come to the United States. He was the only person in his village of about 5,000 people to get one.

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday about whether municipal civil rights ordinances which ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity violate Arkansas law.

The case traces back to 2015 when Fayetteville and the gay-friendly Ozarks town of Eureka Springs passed civil rights ordinances banning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. In response, the Arkansas Legislature passing Act 137, "The Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act."

Sponsored by state Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs), Act 137   prohibits cities and counties from passing civil rights ordinances that create a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law. The Arkansas Supreme Court is now decided whether to uphold that law.

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard a case Thursday that may foreshadow legal battles over LGBTQ protections between state and local governments nationwide.

A 2015 state law banned anti-discrimination ordinances on any basis not already included in Arkansas law. Now lawyers for the state are suing the City of Fayetteville to invalidate its municipal ordinance protecting LGBTQ citizens.

Oral arguments on both sides pivoted on what constitutes an existing protected class in the state constitution.

GLBTQ Meeting Considers Ups, Downs Of Now

Feb 10, 2017

About thirty people attended a meeting at the Jonesboro Public Library’s Round Room Wednesday evening to discuss the issues and challenges facing the gay and transgender populations in Arkansas under the new Trump administration.

“So we really do see that the transgender community is very marginalized.  We see that within health care.  We see that within protections,” said James Rector, field organizer with the Human Rights Campaign of Arkansas.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Supreme Court justices have questioned whether a city's ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity flies in the face of a 2015 state law that was intended to prevent local LGBT protections.

pixabay.com

Human Rights Campaign-Arkansas held a town hall meeting discussing LGBTQ issues under a new Presidential administration.  View the town hall below.  

Arkansas’s two federally sanctioned refugee resettlement agencies are suddenly busy accommodating vetted and visa-ready refugees after a federal appeals court over the weekend temporarily halted President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order barring refugees from entering the U.S. We talk with the resettlement director of Canopy NWA.

A bill advancing in the Arkansas Legislature would effectively block an effort to erect a monument to Satan on state Capitol grounds. The Arkansas House passed a bill on Monday to prevent the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission from considering monument proposals without pre-approval from the Legislature.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is scheduled to proclaim February 7 as “Women’s Primary Suffrage Centennial Day” during an event Tuesday at the state Capitol.

One hundred years ago Arkansas lawmakers introduced legislation allowing women to vote in primary elections. Kathleen Pate, president of the non-profit Arkansas Women’s History Institute, says Arkansas was the first non-suffrage state to enact such a law, which, while progressive for its time, was still limited.

Arkansas has never been the destination for global political and religious refugees seeking asylum that states like New York and California are. But Canopy, a new federally approved refugee resettlement agency in Fayetteville — one of more than 350 religious and secular agencies like it operating across the U.S. —plans to change that.

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University is working with some members of the Jonesboro campus who are impacted by President Donald Trump's immigration ban.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' U.S. senators aren't criticizing President Donald Trump's immigration restrictions as protests spread throughout the country, including in Little Rock.

Republican Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton issued statements Sunday regarding Trump's executive order that bans travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Cotton said it's "simply wrong" to describe the ban as a religious test, but he said there should be "proper procedures" for green-card holders and immigrants who have served alongside U.S. troops to enter the country.

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Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland calls President Donald Trump's executive order on barring citizens from certain Muslim countries "unwise."

Strickland expressed his concerns over the order to the Commercial Appeal on Sunday before releasing an official statement on Twitter.

A proposal to erect a satanic monument on the Arkansas state Capitol grounds has advanced to a public hearing.

A subcommittee of the state Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission on Wednesday cleared the proposal by the Satanic Temple to build a Baphomet statue. A date has not been set for the public hearing, but a spokeswoman said it'll likely be held after this year's legislative session.

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed on behalf of five people who say they were discriminated against while trying to take part in a Black Lives Matter demonstration at Elvis Presley's Graceland.

The protest coincided with an annual candlelight vigil held by fans at the singer's home on the Aug. 15 anniversary of his death.

Graceland owner, Elvis Presley Enterprises, and the city of Memphis are named in the complaint filed Wednesday.

pixabay.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee group of businesses is charging into the fiery debate over how to balance LGBT rights and religious conviction.

About 300 companies, from health-care giant HCA to FedEx, have joined under the moniker Tennessee Thrives to oppose religious objection and bathroom bills, like the one in North Carolina that has stirred a months-long uproar.

Companies in other GOP-led states have successfully voiced opposition under similar names: Georgia Prospers, Opportunity West Virginia, Missouri Competes.

LITTLE ROCK (AP) --A former U.S. senator who defended an impeached president and a former U.S. representative who helped draft articles of impeachment against another president are among the notable Arkansans who died during 2016.

Former governor and Sen. Dale Bumpers died New Year's Day at age 90 and former U.S. Rep. Ray Thornton died April 13 at age 87.

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