Saturday, January 2, 2016

Robert Loyd, a leader in the fight for equality, dies in Conway

Posted By on Sat, Jan 2, 2016 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge ROBERT LLOYD: We put him on the cover in a photo at a demonstration against legislative efforts to legalize discrimination against gay people in the name of religion.
  • ROBERT LLOYD: We put him on the cover in a photo at a demonstration against legislative efforts to legalize discrimination against gay people in the name of religion.

click to enlarge THE PINK HOUSE: A civil rights landmark in Conway.
  • THE PINK HOUSE: A civil rights landmark in Conway.
As readers noted yesterday, Facebook has news — and an outpouring of sadness — about the death Wednesday of Robert Loyd, a pivotal figure in Central Arkansas in the struggle for equal rights for LGBT people.

His husband, John Schenck, wrote on the Conway Pride Facebook page:'

I really do not know what to say but here goes. Last night my BELOVED HUSBAND OF ALMOST 41 YEARS, had a heart attack and died. I will post more later today.

A friend commented on the page:

As most of you know co-founder of Conway Pride, Robert Loyd, passed away last night at his home, the well-known Pink House, of a heart attack. This is such sad news to all who knew this dear person. I do not think Bobby could ever understand the great impact his life and strength had on others. Bobby will be dressed in a fabulous outfit and will be cremated. There will also be a memorial service with more details on this to come soon. His loving husband of 40 years, John Schenck, thanks everyone for such an outpouring of kind words, thoughts and prayers. This year's Conway Pride will for certain be dedicated to Bobby's life and courage. If you would like to send something to the pink house, please feel free. 

Loyd and Schenck, together for 40 years, married in Canada in 2004. They were plaintiffs in the state court challenge of the marriage ban because, despite legally married status, they were denied equal treatment granted by law to other married couples. Schenck worked at the Stonewall Inn during the 1969 riot that propelled the gay rights movement. Loyd was a veteran of Vietnam.

Loyd and Schenck may have been the first couple to marry in Arkansas after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that state bans were unconstitutional. Faulkner County, where the couple lived, was not among those issuing marriage licenses during the week following Judge Chris Piazza's ruling in May 2014. After a week, the state Supreme Court halted further marriages, which resumed after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. As we reported in June:

Loyd and Schneck were at the Pulaski County Courthouse last year when dozens of same-sex couples were legally married in the wake of Piazza's decision. They said then that they wanted to wait until they could get a license in Faulkner County, where they've lived for nearly 30 years. Their salon, painted bright pink and with the words "Teach Tolerance" over the door, has long been one of the state's most visible symbols for LGBT rights. They've organized the Gay Pride Parade in Conway since 2004.

The city has not always been welcoming.

“From that first parade when they spread manure, where they showed how bigoted and small they can be ― now that will never happen again,” Schenck said. “Like Robert said, I hope this is a day I will remember on my death bed.”

We remember.

CORRECTION: The original post misspelled his last name as Lloyd. Sorry and thanks for friends who noted the error.

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