Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Anti-LGBT rights candidate wins in Bentonville

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 7:04 AM

STEALTH ATTACK: Mailers like this, source not identified, hit mailboxes to influence voting in a Bentonville School Board race. It supported the view of the winning candidate.
  • STEALTH ATTACK: Mailers like this, source not identified, hit mailboxes to influence voting in a Bentonville School Board race. It supported the view of the winning candidate.

Discrimination won in a Bentonville School Board election Tuesday. Easily.

Eric White ousted incumbent Grant Lightle in a three-way race, with 492 votes, or 55 percent, to Lightle's 216 votes and 134 votes for former Board member Beth Haney.

Key issue: White said the unsuccessful effort by Lightle, a Walmart attorney, to get the district to adopt an anti-discrimination policy for employees was "divisive." That is, it upset people who prefer legal discrimination against LGBT people.

An ugly anonymous mailer circulated in the district in the final days before the race. It used photographs of President Obama and linked Lightle to transgender rights — men in the girls' room, to use the favorite formulation of religious right-wingers who have been waging this battle nationwide, but particularly in Northwest Arkansas.

Ugly stuff. And it says a lot, along with the local legislative delegation, about the mindset of Bentonville, a community where Walton money has buffed up the city tremendously but made few inroads in hearts and minds.

Ethics note: Arkansas law, in theory, requires disclosure of the spending on the mailings against Lightle. If a group of people are behind the spending, they should have registered as a committee. As yet, nobody's dug up evidence of who was behind the nasty stuff. But it's of a piece with, among others, the work of anti-LGBT lawyer Travis Story in Fayetteville, the Duggar family, Sen. Bart Hester and a variety of others committed to the cause of legal discrimination against LGBT people. You'd think they'd be proud of their work.

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