[Marxism] Son of homophobic Arkansas governor is a labor organizer and former DSA member

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 2 07:00:48 MDT 2015

NY Times, Apr. 2 2015
Arkansas Governor’s Son Thrust Into Spotlight Over Religious Exception Bill

When Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Republican of Arkansas, spoke on Wednesday 
about the future of what proponents call the religious freedom bill 
pending in his state, he disclosed that the proposal had drawn 
resistance from a particularly noteworthy critic: his son, Seth Hutchinson.

But to people familiar with the Hutchinsons, long one of the most 
influential families in Arkansas, the news was hardly a bombshell.

“It would be surprising to me if he didn’t do that,” said Shawn 
Standefer, a childhood friend of the younger Mr. Hutchinson who 
captained their national championship-winning Quiz Bowl team in high 
school. “He’s always been concerned with justice, however he’s thought 
of it.”

And so it was on Saturday, with lawmakers nearing a vote on the 
legislation that critics said would legalize discrimination against gay 
people, that the younger Mr. Hutchinson wrote to his father and warned 
that the proposal could damage Arkansas’s reputation and economy. It was 
only the latest chapter in a politically complicated relationship 
between Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman, and Seth Hutchinson, 31, 
an organizer for the Texas State Employees Union.

“I love my dad, and we have a good, close relationship,” Seth Hutchinson 
said on Wednesday. “But we disagree a lot on political issues. This is 
just another one, but a lot of families disagree politically. But we 
stay close.”

Mr. Hutchinson has not always been what he described as the family’s 
political “black sheep.”

“I kind of grew up on the campaign trail,” he said. “Having a political 
opinion just came naturally to me. At first, I pretty much followed the 
values that my family and my parents laid out for me.”

But, starting when he was about 15 and working as a dishwasher at a 
diner, Mr. Hutchinson’s views began to change as he shuffled through 
other jobs, including stints at Chuck E. Cheese’s and Sears. He grew 
frustrated when he saw older workers enduring financial hardships in 
low-paying jobs.

“It just showed me that there’s something wrong,” he said, adding that 
he became interested in gay rights at about the same time, when friends 
began discussing their sexual orientations and after the arrest of an 
art teacher, who was gay.

“He was not out,” Mr. Hutchinson said of the teacher. “And he was 
arrested in a park — I think the official charge was attempting to 
loiter — and it was obvious he was there because he couldn’t be out and 
keep his job.”

Mr. Hutchinson had robust political discussions with his father even as 
a high school student, long before their views diverged so vastly.

Continue reading the main story

Graphic: Backlash Against Indiana Religious Exceptions
“He would defend his views,” Mr. Standefer said. “And as they changed, 
he tried to stand by his new views.”

Mr. Hutchinson spent a year at Georgetown University before enrolling at 
the University of Central Arkansas, where he joined groups like the 
Young Democratic Socialists, and rallied for gay rights during the 
tenure of another Republican, Gov. Mike Huckabee. He would contact a 
cousin, Tim C. Hutchinson, who sat in the State House of 
Representatives, to register his views.

Seth Hutchinson later moved to Texas and became a labor activist, which 
the governor mentions to left-leaning audiences.

Father and son communicate regularly, Seth Hutchinson said, and the 
family gathers at least once or twice a year.

“It’s always a lively and engaging conversation,” Mr. Hutchinson said.

On Wednesday, the governor said he would ask lawmakers to either recall 
or rewrite portions of the bill. Seth Hutchinson, though, refused to 
take credit.

“I did not sway my dad,” he said. “I think my dad is rethinking this 
because of the pressure that’s coming at him from all sides.”

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