Members of an Arkansas-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights group are outraged after a local restauranteur canceled their event, saying he does not agree with their lifestyle. Sisters Gourmet Bistro owner Richard Hodo tells local ABC affiliate 4029 News that he opted to nix the River Valley Equality Center's fundraiser because he "doesn't support their cause." "I called them and told them that I -- we're not going to have that at Sisters, we had no plans for that and there were no reservations to hold any kind of fundraiser or anything like that," Hodo is quoted by the news channel as saying. But River Valley Equality Center members allege that Hodo went even further, comparing their group to the Ku Klux Klan. "He said, 'If the KKK came to my event came to Sisters and wanted to have an event here, I would turn them down as well,'" River Valley Equality Center President Erin Fowler told 5 News KFSM/KXNW, describing the encounter as "really distressing" and a case of "open and flagrant discrimination." Hodo did not deny the allegation, but said his words had been taken out of context. "We’ve got fine dining and this is a private club and we have the right to refuse service to anyone," he said. "I’m not gonna have a fundraiser here for that or, like I said, for the KKK or the Nazis or, you know, any group that would be a controversial group,” said Hodo. According to the group's Facebook page, River Valley Equality Center members are now planning a Feb. 23 "Awareness Day" in lieu of the fundraiser.
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