Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing

Local Arkansas restaurant owner Richard Hodo cancelled a fundraiser hosted by River Valley Equality Center after learning the group works to support LGBT rights.

According to River Valley Equality Center President Erin Fowler, the Sisters Gourmet Bistro owner told the group, “If the KKK came to Sisters and wanted to have an event here, I would turn them down as well.”

Hodo later told the Huffington Post that his words were taken out of context. He stated:

"We’ve got fine dining and this is a private club and we have the right to refuse service to anyone.I’m not gonna have a fundraiser here for that or, like I said, for the KKK or the Nazis or, you know, any group that would be a controversial group.”

Hodo’s vitriolic comparison of an LGBT civil rights organization, which works to promote tolerance and acceptance, to the KKK, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group, perpetuates a toxic environment for the LGBT community, particularly LGBT youth.

Many communities across the country still lack the basic provisions to keep LGBT youth safe in their communities, and often LGBT youth have no adults to whom they can confide in or seek advice.

While we’ve made historic gains in the last year toward equality, there are LGBT people in communities that still need organizations like River Valley Equality Center and HRC to loudly advocate on their behalf.

We must continue to forge partnerships with our allies and educate those who oppose us so all members of the LGBT community can live openly and safely. 

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