Meanwhile, among advertisements for bingo games and lemonade pie in an Arkadelphia restaurant, Griffin began his next chapter as a gay rights leader, listening intently as community leaders shared small signs of progress. He received a warm welcome home: Dozens showed up for breakfast, and about 200 people turned out for his chat in Little Rock with Arkansas' lone openly gay lawmaker, state Rep. Kathy Webb.
But Griffin's message isn't widely accepted here, where in 2004 under Huckabee, about three-quarters of voters backed an amendment to the state's constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
"That can only be changed with another constitutional amendment," Gov. Mike Beebe told a group of high school students recently. "I don't see it happening in the foreseeable future."
Although Beebe and other top Arkansas Democrats oppose same-sex marriage, Griffin said he doesn't write anyone off.
"I think so, too, will Mike Huckabee support full equality for LGBT people soon," he said.
After all, the state's Supreme Court last year rejected a law that effectively banned gay and lesbian couples from adopting or fostering children.
Someday, Griffin said, he'd like to marry and have a family of his own. He is seeing a man from Massachusetts, but is quick to point out that he's not fighting for gay rights just for himself.
"My motivation really is the young people," Griffin said.
He met with some of them in Little Rock, including a 19-year-old college student, who is the daughter of a Pentecostal preacher. She started questioning her sexuality several years ago, and when her parents found out, she was sent to a camp to "pray the gay away."
When she came back, she lied and told them she was straight.
The student, who spoke on condition of anonymity because her parents don't know she is gay, said she has come out to some of her friends, but doesn't want to lose her parents.
She said Griffin inspired her to do more for gay rights, and her voice shook as she asked Griffin how she could get her foot in the door.
"Kick that door down," Griffin said.
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