Favorite

From Wal-Mart to the White House 

Hope produces a champion for gay rights.

click to enlarge GRIFFIN: Oppose the homophobes.
  • GRIFFIN: Oppose the homophobes.

Quick: Name the wunderkind from Hope who went to the White House in 1993.

That would be Chad Griffin, born in Hope, raised in Arkadelphia, a fresh-faced 19 years old when Dee Dee Myers invited him to work in the West Wing press office.

Now a political consultant in Los Angeles, Griffin has earned what might be a more substantial claim to fame: Backed by a foundation created by actor and director Rob Reiner and headed by Griffin, he put together the wildly unlikely legal team of Theodore Olson and David Boies to head the challenge of California's Proposition 8, the gay-marriage repeal voted last year.

That's Olson and Boies as in Bush v. Gore, in which the ultra-conservative Olson represented George W. Bush and Boies represented Al Gore. Olson served in Ronald Reagan's administration, was solicitor general in Bush's and is a high-profile member of the right-wing Federalist Society. His support of a legal theory that says the Constitution prohibits the states from banning same-sex marriage raised every eyebrow.

Even Griffin's. “When someone said to me you should talk to Ted Olson; you might be surprised,” Griffin was skeptical. “The Ted Olson I know was Bush v. Gore. He outsmarted us.” But after meeting confidentially with Olson in Washington, Griffin became convinced that Olson truly believed California's ban to be unconstitutional. He wasn't going to throw the case, as some initially suggested. “He doesn't want to lose the most significant civil rights case” of our time, Griffin said. “This is Ted Olson's legacy.”

Looking up over his catfish and sweetened tea at the bar of the Capital Hotel, the former Arkadelphia Badger said, “Any thinking person knows the way this issue is headed.”

Who would have known where Griffin was headed when he volunteered to work in Bill Clinton's presidential campaign office in Little Rock in 1992?

 

 n Here's how Chad Griffin, now 36, became the youngest person ever to be employed in the West Wing:

After his senior year in high school, Griffin, who was deeply interested in international news and politics and had spent a summer in Japan, went to Germany on scholarship to study for a year. Back home, Clinton had announced he was running for president. People outside Arkansas weren't taking the campaign very seriously, but a Californian Griffin was studying with abroad was a big Clinton fan.

The morning after the day he returned to Arkadelphia, Griffin got a phone call from the California man.

“What the hell are you doing at home?” the friend asked Griffin. “I said, ‘What are you talking about?' ”

“The next president of the United States is your governor and is headquartered in Little Rock and you should be there today,”  the friend said.

“And the next day I drove to Little Rock,” Griffin said, “and I walked in the volunteer office and they said do you want to open mail or answer phones and I said I want to work in the press office. And I became Dee Dee Myers' intern.”

It was June, before the convention. Griffin took classes at Ouachita Baptist University two days a week and traveled the other five to Little Rock.

Nodding in the direction of the Old Statehouse, Griffin said, “On election night, I was standing right across the street. I had never taken the step of ... He's gonna be president?”

Myers hired Griffin for the transition press team. Ten days before the inauguration, “Dee Dee asked me if I wanted to come on the press charter and help. I said, ‘Are you kidding me?' ”  He packed a bag, got on the plane and was off to D.C.

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • V.L. Cox's 'Murder of Crows' travels to New York

    Little Rock artist V.L. Cox is sending her found-object sculptural installation "A Murder of Crows, The End Hate Collection" to to New York for exhibition Sept. 9-Nov. 11 at The Center, which serves New York's LGBTQ community.
    • Aug 26, 2016
  • Delita Martin/Lauritzen Wright/Nina Katchadourian/Andrew Kilgore

    The Bradford Art Museum at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro is celebrating its one-year anniversary tonight with the opening of four super exhibitions of portraiture and a talk by printmaker Delita Martin, formerly of Little Rock but now living in Houston. A reception starts at 5 p.m.; Martin's talk is at 6 p.m.
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Metroplan advisory panel says no to waiver of six-lane limit

    By a vote of 20-3, Metroplan's Regional Planning Advisory Committee today voted against lifting the Central Arkansas transit plan's limit of six through-lanes on interstates to accommodate the state highway department's plan to widen Interstate 30.
    • Aug 24, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Arkansas's new anti-gay law forgets history

    It turns back the clock on civil rights.
    • Feb 26, 2015
  • A child left unprotected

    State Rep. Justin Harris and his wife adopted a young girl through the state Department of Human Services. How did she, six months later, end up in the care of a man who sexually abused her?
    • Mar 5, 2015
  • Suffer the renters

    Lawsuit seeks to abolish the criminalization of eviction.
    • Jan 15, 2015

Most Shared

  • The South, including Arkansas, is failing poor kids who want to go to college

    The Atlantic has an important perspective on the South's "cycle of failing higher education."  Arkansas stands out for the cost barriers it presents to low-income students.
  • School takeovers erode democracy, target minority communities

    New reporting shows state takeover of schools around the country, including in Little Rock, have disproportionately affected minority communities.
  • Arkansas legislator tied to fatal bus crash in Louisiana

    Republican state Rep. David Wallace of Leachville, a current candidate for state Senate, has been identified as the owner of a company that rounded up a group of workers, apparently undocumented aliens, for flood relief work in Louisiana, including one with a poor driving record who was at the wheel in a fatal bus crash on Interstate 10.
  • The boys on the tracks are back

    A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Little Rock bears notice for its effort to breathe life into the 29-year-old story most familiarly known as the Boys on the Tracks.
  • Dumas: Behind the Obamascare headlines

    Ernest Dumas explains in his Arkansas times column this week how Obamacare's problems can be fixed; why it isn't going away, and, most pertinently, why it's more lucrative for Arkansas to continue to expand the coverage pool, not dream up ways to shrink it.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Event Calendar

« »

August

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • 'Million-dollar Thursday'

    Ever bounced a check? Pray you don't end up in Sherwood District Court, where a lawsuit says misdemeanor hot check defendants are hounded to the edge of ruin, repeatedly jailed and forced to pay thousands on original checks of less than $100.
  • Correcting corrections, by the numbers

    The Broadway Bridge is closing down, a not-so-ideal candidate and more.
  • The Grand Old Flag

    The Observer, like nearly everyone else with access to an internet connection, routinely sees our personal lighthouse battered by Hurricane Outrage, which — on a planet where billions of people struggle to find water and a crumb of daily bread — seems more like a tempest in a teapot inside a series of other, progressively larger teapots the longer we weather it.
  • A tiny bit of river trail in Little Rock

    Mile-long path stops at Dillard's.
  • Jiggery-pokery

    I call jiggery-pokery on the latest column from Sen. John Boozman to constituents entitled "Combating Zika."

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation