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Arkansas Hub



04/19/2007


HRC President Chad Griffin Talks to NPR About Growing Up Gay in Arkansas: VIDEO

Chad_griffin

NPR follows HRC President Chad Griffin back to his home state of Arkansas and talks to Griffin and his childhood friends about what it was like to grow up gay there, and his high school job at Walmart!

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay Couple Denied Commitment Announcement in Arkansas Paper

Cody Renegar and his fiance Thomas Staed plan to hold a commitment ceremony at their Elkins, Arkansas home this summer and hoped to publish an announcement in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

RenegarBut the paper won't let them, KNWA reports:

The paper's publisher says it is their policy to only print announcements for marriages legally recognized by the state, and Arkansas does not acknowledge same-sex marriages.

"It's not a law for it not to be put in the paper, it's a choice of theirs, it felt to me like they were making a stance.  Whether they were or not I don't know," Renegar says.

He says the paper's position is a big letdown. "You want to be recognized as a taxpayer, as a human being, as a person in love...it's not that complicated for them to print a picture of people in love."

We did ask the paper's publisher for an on-camera interview, but he declined our offer.

Watch a video interview with Renegar at KNWA.

Yahoo! News adds:

Gazette publisher Rusty Turner told Yahoo! News on Monday that he was not familiar with Renegar's request, but said it would not be published because of long-standing editorial policies. "We run announcements for marriages that are legally recognized in Arkansas," Turner said."It is a long-established policy of the newspaper."

Turner said he was personally unaware of any similar requests from same-sex couples.

A petition to the paper has been launched at Change.org.


Arkansas Democratic Campaign Manager Finds Family Cat Killed, Defaced with the Word 'Liberal'

Jake Burris, who manages Democrat Ken Aden's bid for Arkansas' 3rd Congressional District, arrived home to find the family cat dead and "liberal" written across its body in magic marker. I'm not going to include the photo but it's here if you're interested in making yourself sick.

Reuters: Aden

Aden is running against incumbent Republican Representative Steve Womack. Burris was returning to his Russellville, Arkansas home with his four children when he found the cat on his doorstep, the Aden campaign said in a press release on Monday. The mixed-breed Siamese cat had one side of its head bashed in to "the point the cat's eyeball was barely hanging from its socket," the release said.

Blue Arkansas writes:

I asked Aden for a comment on the record: “This is sickening.  To kill a child’s pet…I’m at a loss for words…I’ve seen the best and the worst of humanity, but this is something else.”

Both Ken and Jake though made it clear that they weren’t going to back down on the campaign trail, both agreeing that caving to this kind of behavior would only make things worse. “I’ve got a gun and I know how to use it.”, Jake said.  “If I have to protect my kids I’ll do it without hesitation.”


Mike Beebe is First Sitting Arkansas Governor to Address Gay Rights Group, Says He Opposes Same-Sex Marriage

Democratic Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe became the first sitting governor of that state to address a gay rights group on Tuesday night, Reuters reports, speaking to the Stonewall Democrats in a church in Little Rock:

Beebe During a question and answer session, Beebe said an Arkansas newspaper should not have to run the name of a life partner in an obituary if that was the paper's policy. Many in the crowd loudly disagreed, as they did when Beebe said he didn't believe in gay marriage.

"I think marriage is ... as defined by the law," he said, saying unions should be between a man and a woman.

"That's something we disagree on," he said.

When asked if he thought marriage or civil union laws would ever become legal in Bible Belt Arkansas, Beebe said no.

Beebe also spoke about gay adoption and foster care, and employment discrimination:

As an example of how his views on gay rights have changed over time, Beebe pointed to his acceptance of gay couples as possible foster parents. Five years ago, Beebe supported a ban on gay foster parents.

In response to a question, Beebe said he doesn't think employers should discriminate based on sexual orientation.

"I think you ought to be judged by how well you do your employment. Period," Beebe said. He stopped short, though, of endorsing legislation that would ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Listen to audio from Beebe's Q&A, HERE.

UPDATE: Igor Volsky at Think Progress has more on the meeting, including this bit.

As the question and answer session went on, Beebe seemed unaware that Arkansas did not have a law prohibiting employers from firing individuals on the basis of sex or gender identity and initially claimed that it was illegal for a business to fire an employee because she or he is gay. He was corrected by the crowd and sounded embarrassed by the snafu. 

Listen, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Arkansas Newspaper Rebuffs GLAAD, Revokes Apology to Gay Man Left Out of Partner's Obituary

Last week, GLAAD secured a commitment from Arkansas newspaper The Batesville Daily Guard to apologize to Terrance James, the surviving 10-year partner of a gay man for omitting him from his late partner's obituary. The paper also promised to re-run the obituary with James' name in it.

James Late last week, the paper completely reversed its commitment, claiming that James has an "agenda". Blue Arkansas has more on James and his battle.

Wrote the paper, in part, in an editorial Friday:

It was brought to our attention Terence James had a problem with our policy because he was not listed in the free obituary as a life partner. Once again, free obituaries do not list life partners or significant others, nor does it list in-laws or ex-spouses...

...After obtaining a copy of the paperwork filled out by Mr. James at the funeral home, we learned he listed two cats as daughters and a dog as a son. Once again, Mr. James was told by the director the Guard does not list pets as survivors in a free obituary.

We deal with the death of loved ones on a daily basis and our established policy allows us to do that with consistency. Listing pets as children is a direct slap in the face to every grieving parent who has buried a child, young or old.

This begs the question of exactly what motive Mr. James had when he began giving out false information to news channels and various organizations in order to promote his own agenda.

Because of Mr. James, the Guard has come under fire for the policies that are in place for everyone.

GLAAD wrote:

Today, the paper has completely hardened on that stance, insisting that excluding a surviving partner of ten years is justifiable.  At GLAAD, we completely disagree.  Excluding a grieving partner from recognition is cruel and insensitive.  It’s wrong.

GLAAD got involved on Wednesday, after reading about the incident on Queerty. That afternoon, we contacted the Guard’s spokesperson/attorney Oscar Jones to see what could be done, and he expressed what we understood to be sincere sympathy. He offered us a direct promise that the policy was in the process of changing, and the paper would meet next week to formalize changes to recognize surviving partners without a marriage certificate. He also expressed an interest in apologizing to Terrance James directly. On Thursday, we reached out to Terrance and told him what Oscar, acting as the paper’s spokesperson, told us. Terrance said he would like to hear from the paper, so we called Oscar to pass along his contact information. At this point, Oscar offered to run a paid obituary, written however Terrance would like it written, and said the paper would donate the fee for the obituary to the charity of Terrance’s choosing, in the memory of his partner. We offered to pay for the obituary.

Little Rock LGBT Rights group Center for Artistic Revolution is reportedly planning a community vigil for James.

Reuters reports:

Now the protests are going forward, and the central figure in the controversy, the gay life partner of a man who died from spinal meningitis, is threatening legal action from a hospital bed.

"I want a hundred times more now than I did at the beginning of all of this, which was just to have my name listed," Terence James told Reuters on Monday. James has been diagnosed with the same illness that killed his partner, John Millican, on June 11.

Oscar Jones, the newspaper's attorney, told Reuters on Monday that the policy was still being reviewed and that it was "a process," not something they could do overnight. "That's a process as opposed to just not a decision immediately," Jones said. "I anticipate changes in the policy but I don't know what those will be yet."

GLAAD adds:

Please contact the publisher and let her know that the paper does in fact owe Mr. James an apology, and should re-run the obituary, including recognition of the surviving partner:

Pat Jones, 870-793-2383, patjones@guardonline.com


Arkansas Supreme Court Upholds Ruling Striking Down Ban on Gay Adoption and Foster Care

The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that struck down the state's ban on adoption and foster care by gay couples or other unmarried parents, the AP reports:

Arkansas "The state's high court wrote in an opinion Thursday that the law burdens the privacy of unmarried couples who live together. A state judge struck down the law last April because he said it forced unmarried couples to choose between their relationships and becoming adoptive parents. The attorney general later asked the Supreme Court to reverse that decision, arguing that fostering or adopting a child is not a constitutionally protected right."


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