HRC Blog

Arkansas Shows Some Southern Hospitality

I’ve been to Arkansas a couple times for fun, but this visit made me want to stay. I am here in Arkansas now with a specific purpose: to build constituent support to urge Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor to vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

From Fayetteville to Little Rock I am finding fair-minded supporters of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal who have volunteered with enthusiasm to contact their senators to make their voices heard on this national issue.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender leaders across Arkansas are smart, savvy and motivated to help win repeal as well; from the board of the NWA Center for Equality, to Randi Romo, the Executive Director of the Center for Artistic Revolution, a state-wide organization that strives for Fairness and Equality for all Arkansans.

Along with state Representative Kathy Webb , the first and only out lesbian in the Arkansas legislature, these organizations are committed to partnering with the Human Rights Campaign to turn out constituent support, and identify veterans and other leading voices for repeal to ensure that their senators vote for fairness and equality.

It is those in CAR’s youth program, Diverse Youth for Social Change, who perhaps have most inspired me. This program works with young LGBTQ people to improve the quality of their personal, home, school and community lives and to teach them leadership, organizing and advocacy skills.

The awesome youth from DYSC, and other community members from local churches, joined me this week and canvassed with energy and purpose at the River Market in Little Rock, a farmer’s market that brings thousands of local residents to town every Saturday morning.

We talked to moms and dads, young couples, veterans, retired folks and students who overwhelmingly signed our DADT repeal petition, illustrating again what the polls confirm: that nearly 80 percent of the American population thinks that this discriminatory law should be repealed. Many thanked us for doing this work as they walked off to buy their fresh fruits and vegetables.

I thank the brave LGBT and allied women, men and youth of Arkansas who have so enthusiastically, and with a big dose of Southern hospitality, partnered with HRC in undertaking this important work for equality. It’s friends like these that last a lifetime. Together, such friends can change the world.

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