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04/19/2007


Arkansas School District Tells Gay Alumnus He Can't Speak at Graduation

Bryant Huddleston, a single dad and TV Writer and producer in Los Angeles, an alumnus of Sloan-Hendrix High School in Arkansas, says he was disinvited to speak at the school's graduation after school members and Superintendent Mitch Walton discovered he was gay.

HuddlestonSaid Huddleston in a letter:

I am writing to express my disappointment in the Sloan-Hendrix Superitendent’s recent decision to recant his invitation for me to be the keynote speaker at my little sister, Madicyn’s, graduation from Sloan-Hendrix High School this year, based solely on the fact that I am gay.

What baffles me is that he chose to disregard the fact that I grew up in Imboden, and my career accomplishments--KAIT news anchor and reporter, successful television producer in Hollywood, producing shows such as E! News, Access Hollywood, etc., --were dismissed and instead you chose to make me a hot bed controversial issue.

His decision forced the members of the Sloan-Hendrix School Board to vote on my participation but what was equally unfair is that he forced the President of the Board Steve Huddleston (my father), to abstain from voting, thus forcing a tie and then declared there would be “no speaker this year,” ultimately nixing any opportunity to share my pathway to success with the graduates.  Was this in the students’ best interest or is this a decision based on religious beliefs?

Huddleston, who held leadership positions at the school when he attended, ripped the school's decision:

I understand that Mr. Clark and Mr. Murphy both stated there would be "concern from the community" if I were allowed to speak. I'm curious--did you think my speech would have focused on recruiting youngsters and passing out "Go Straight to Gay" cards over sharing the tools that I used to achieve success? You might be surprised to know that "recruitment" does not and never will work. And just for the record, just so we're clear, my words were not going to address a "certain agenda," but I was hoping to empower your students to continue their education. My speech would have also touched on the importance of women, like my sister, who will go out into the world and know that they can now pull their chairs right up to the table of equality. To encourage them that they can no longer sit in the back and let men make the important decisions for them. And for that matter, letting them know that someday a woman or two or three can become a member of the Sloan-Hendrix School Board. After all, there's an opening, since my father will resign from the Board later this month.

I could just sit back and let this slide, but if I did, the discrimination that has taken place here would go unnoticed like it has so many times in history.

Read his full letter HERE.

WaltonWalton issued a statement in response, saying that Huddleston was never invited:

Sloan-Hendrix has had individuals to speak at graduation in the past. Contrary to what has been said, no invitation was extended this year to anyone. As superintendent, I have the authority to decide about who the speaker will be or whether we have a speaker at all. The school board does not vote on speakers for graduation.

This year, Mr. Steve Huddleston, a board member, suggested his son as a speaker. Bryant Huddleston graduated from Sloan-Hendrix in 1990 and went on to success in the entertainment industry. He was never invited by me to be the graduation speaker. After visiting informally with board members, no agreement was reached as to who should be invited to speak. Therefore, my decision was to do what had been discussed in the past—to discontinue the use of outside speakers and thereby shorten an already lengthy graduation program.

Sloan-Hendrix has exceptional graduates. Graduation this year and in the future will feature only student speakers. Graduation is a celebration of the accomplishments of Sloan- Hendrix students and a time to let those students shine for their families and the community at large. We welcome the presence of everyone in the community to share in this event.

Sincerely,
Mitch Walton
Superintendent Sloan-Hendrix School District


Never Leave Oil Behind: VIDEO

Exxon

No doubt you've heard about the Mayflower oil spill in Arkansas.

'Exxon' has something to say about the convenience of lawn-based oil reserves,
AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Never Leave Oil Behind: VIDEO" »


Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR): 'I am Opposed to Gay Marriage'

Mark_pryor

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) clarified his feelings on marriage equality in a follow-up email to an interview he did last weekend with 5News:

“I am opposed to gay marriage,” he said in an e-mail. “In the interview with KFSM done on April 5, I also discussed whether gay couples should receive benefits if they work for the federal government. On the benefits issue, I said to ‘put me down in the undecided category.’  By that I meant that, depending on what the U.S. Supreme Court decides, I will evaluate whether federal benefits should be available to gay couples. Of course, I will consider the impact any extension of benefits would have on the federal budget.”

(via tncrm)


Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR): I'm 'Undecided' on Marriage Equality But Do Believe Being Gay is Not a Choice

Mark_pryor

Last night I posted a quote from an upcoming 5News interview with Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), one of the remaining three senate Democrats who hadn't shown his hand on the issue of marriage equality.

Here's more from that interview on his position on marriage equality:

"I would put me down in the undecided category. I did talk with some friends of mine in the gay and lesbian community over the last week or so. We talked about this issue. We also talked about a question I received in the office not too long ago where they asked whether being gay was a choice or whether you were born that way.  I told them, I said, 'Honestly I’ve never really thought a lot about that.' Maybe a lot of people think about that. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about that. But one of the things I hear from them is they feel very strongly that it’s not a choice for them, and I respect that. I’m not going to dispute that. I appreciate that, and I appreciate their honesty.  For a lot of these people they just really open their heart to me and talked about some of the struggles they’ve had over the years with their sexual orientation. I respect that and appreciate their patience, and I appreciate their honesty."

On benefits for same-sex couples, Pryor added:

"This is one that is an evolving issue in Washington. I haven’t really analyzed this in terms of benefits and what that does for the federal budget…. I’m sure as the gay marriage decision goes to through the U.S. Supreme Court and all the ramifications for that over the next few months, we’ll spend some time on this."

There is a raw video of the interview online, but it currently has no sound.

Two other senate Dems, Tim Johnson (D-SD), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are the last remaining to take a position.


Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) on Marriage Equality: 'Put Me Down in the Undecided Category'

Pryor

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), one of three senate Democrats who have not made their positions clear on marriage equality told Arkansas station KFSM 5News reporter Larry Henry today:

“I would put me down in the undecided category."

The statement was tweeted by Henry as part of an interview Pryor did with the network today.

Two other senate Dems, Tim Johnson (D-SD), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are the last remaining to take a position.


Arkansas Cafe Says No to Equality Group's Fundraiser, Compares Them to the KKK

Hodo

Richard Hodo, the owner of Sisters Gourmet Bistro in Van Buren, canceled a planned fundraiser by River Valley Equality Center, a local LGBT rights group, after he found out who they were, ABC4029 reports:

"I told them that I do not support their cause, that if they want to do that that's their business. I do not care, but I don't support their lifestyle and their cause," said Hodo.

The organization said they raise awareness for the gay and lesbian community in the River Valley.

"What I told the lady on the on the phone, look I said if the KKK came here and wanted to hold a fundraiser rally and all that, I wouldn't allow that either," said Hodo.

Check out the video interview here.


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