Arkansas Restaurant Cancels LGBT Fundraiser, Compares Group to KKK

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com February 09 2013 2:55 PM ET

Leaders at an LGBT center in Van Buren, Ark., say a local restaurant owner discriminated against them and compared them to the Ku Klux Klan when he cancelled a reservation the group made to hold a fundraiser there. 

Representatives from the River Valley Equality Center told ABC affiliate 40/29TV that the owner of Sisters Gourmet Bistro cancelled the group's reservation to host a fundraiser after he realized it was for an LGBT organization. 

"I told them that I do not support their cause," Sisters owner Richard Hodo told 40/29. "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."

River Valley organizers say Hodo's refusal to serve them amounts to antigay discrimination, and noted that the owner compared the center to a white supremacist hate-group. 

"It felt like he was comparing us as equals with the KKK," said River Valley organizer Sarah Sarrubbo. "And we're about completely opposite things."

Hodo confirmed that comparison in an interview with 40/29.

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

Organizers at River Valley said they plan to hold an awareness rally on a street corner near the restaurant in response to the incident. 

Arkansas does not have antidiscrimination protections for LGBT people, according to the Human Rights Campaign