John La Tour questioned a restaurant server’s gender identity and sparked a controversial online debate that has nearly broken the internet. La Tour is a Fayetteville, Arkansas City Council member. He has refused to step down from his post after heated calls from the LGBT community to do so.
La Tour insists he asked the server at Arsaga’s at the Depot restaurant on Dickson Street a simple question while attempting to deal with a situation about loud music at the restaurant. The alderman was meeting with acquaintances at the restaurant and said he was having trouble hearing what they were saying over the loud music, the Fayetteville Flyer reports.
— Julie ♀♀ (@Julie_in_FL) March 22, 2016
The Fayetteville city councilman said when he asked his server to turn down the music volume, he was told the level would not be adjusted any lower. In his frustration, he decided to “shimmy over to the counter” and told a staffer that he might as well go ahead and dance since talking during the meal was not feasible.
“It was a facetious gesture to make a point. I was just trying to make lemonade out of lemons,” John La Tour added.
Because he was not sure if the staffer was a man or a woman, he asked the individual about their gender. He added that being a heterosexual, he does not dance with men. After the two had some “back and forth,” La Tour told the woman that he is a man and he can “prove it.”
Shortly after the comment was made, the Arsaga’s restaurant manager asked the local elected official to leave the premises. La Tour denies all claims that he offered to drop his pants in order to prove that he is a man. He said he never had anything specific in mind when he noted that he could prove his gender, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
“There are ways to prove gender, such as a birth certificate,” La Tour added.
Restaurant owner Cary Arsaga was not at the eatery when the incident occurred. To the best of his understanding, the owner said the councilman’s accounting of what transpired is “mostly accurate.” Arsaga had declined to name the server also involved in the exchange but noted that she is “mortified” by all of the media attention.
“We live under an ordinance which lets me choose my gender based on how I feel that day. You can declare you’re a man or you’re a woman, whatever you want to,” La Tour said. “I’m not going to ask a man to dance with me.”
The law referenced by the Fayetteville councilman is the Uniform Civil Rights Protection Law, which was passed in the city last summer. The ordinance was reportedly enacted to prevent discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
— Haley (@dxingwithhaley) March 22, 2016
An online petition calling for La Tour’s resignation has garnered about 2,500 signatures. He said the server took his gender identity question “the wrong way” and said resignation is not even an option.
What do you think about the gender identity question posed by the Fayetteville, Arkansas, city councilman? Should John La Tour step down from his elected position?
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