For American Gays, Segregation Returns To Mississippi


While it seems like all of America rose up to oppose Arizona's attempt to use 'faith' as a reason to deny LGBT Americans public accommodations, Mississippi has just passed a very similar, if not tougher law that the Governor has signed. The quiet across America has been deafening. Maybe it is because activists knew we had a chance in Arizona and almost no chance to stop it in Mississippi.

Segregation_drinking_fountainActually the LGBT community and our allies seem more upset about a CEO and his $1,000 contribution against marriage than this new law.

Given its history, maybe it is appropriate that Mississippi become the first state to reinstate a form of segregation.

Am I being too tough in using the world segregation? Am I dishonoring the efforts to end such a plague in the 1960's?

Absolutely not.

When anyone can deny me the right to eat in a restaurant or sleep in a hotel because I am an LGBT American then that is segregation.

Now if I should travel to the Magnolia State, I will have to figure out where I can do business, where I can sleep and if I will be denied service in a particular restaurant.

What if a plumber won't fix a flooding home? How about a contractor refusing to build an LGBT couple a house? Can a person selling insurance refuse to sell LGBT Mississippians a policy? If an LGBT couple lives in a small Mississippi town, can all the businesses refuse them service based on faith?

Any American who cares about their fellow LGBT citizens must take a stand.

No company or organization should hold a convention or conference in the state.

I hear the beaches in Northern Florida are spectacular which are just a short distance from Mississippi's Gulf Coast. Want to gamble? There are so many other choices. Listen to the "Blues"? Hell, head to St. Louis or Kansas City, and the bar-b-que is excellent in both those cities.

For LGBT Americans, the choice is clear.

As long as this new system of segregation is on the books in Mississippi, we must fight it day in and day out. There is no question that our national legal organizations will oppose it. If LGBT people are actually denied service anywhere in the Magnolia State, a plan of civil disobedience has to be considered as a viable option.

Count on right-wing Republicans to attempt to pass the same law in other states in the name of religious freedom. In the 1960's, most of the white churches of the South used their faith as a reason to oppress African-Americans.

It was unacceptable then and it is unacceptable now.

America must come down hard on these laws now or we could be living with them in a number of states for years to come.

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  1. True. "All Quiet on the Western Front"

    Posted by: Patrick | Apr 6, 2014 1:17:58 PM

  2. No doubt about it. Thank you for your comments.

    Posted by: Peter | Apr 6, 2014 1:20:52 PM

  3. Wow dude. True. Still, it's just that we already expect so little of Mississippians, sorry. So I think some of us have been quiet for uncertainty about what can be done effectively.

    I hate to say it, but: freedom rides? Is that what this is gonna have to come to?!!

    Posted by: Just_a_guy | Apr 6, 2014 1:28:31 PM

  4. Mississippi and several of the other states on the Gulf of Mexico have no high tech industry (and never will). Hence, there is no pressure from business to change this law.

    Posted by: Frank | Apr 6, 2014 1:37:41 PM

  5. Gay isn't the new black, these parallels are absurd.

    Posted by: Jay | Apr 6, 2014 1:53:40 PM

  6. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Mississippi one of the states that has no protections for gay people? In other words it's ALREADY perfectly legal to discriminate against gay people? I thought this was one of the issues with the Arizona law: it was completely unnecessary and the whole point of it seemed to be that we gay people need to really, really be put in our place, lest we get too "uppity".

    Posted by: John B. | Apr 6, 2014 2:30:26 PM

  7. The difference is most people aren't interested in going to Mississippi, so they don't care. Like what's happening in Africa. I read the comment from the head if the anglican church in England saying if they approve same sex marriage, then anglicans in Africa will be murdered. Why dies US continue to support this types of societies? Do you engage for change or just ignore and give up? I'm conflicted.

    Posted by: steve talbert | Apr 6, 2014 2:40:06 PM

  8. I was going to boycott the state but I couldn't find any reason to go there to begin with.

    Posted by: Craig | Apr 6, 2014 2:44:18 PM

  9. Expelle Mississippi from the Union...

    Posted by: Robert M. | Apr 6, 2014 2:52:11 PM

  10. While I appreciate the specific call to action (convention and conference boycott), frankly, the rest of this column is an insult to my intelligence. Rather than explain why the law is bad, it tries to paint scary pictures dumbed down to the level of an eight year old. I guess we're too stupid to understand.

    The law in question does not legalize anti-gay segregation or discrimination in Mississippi. It's already legal to do that. There are no federal, state, or local laws prohibiting anti-gay discrimination in the state. Private businesses in Mississippi can already fire, evict, or refuse service to gay people, without fear of legal sanctions.

    What does the law do? While it was clearly written with gay people in mind, its effects actually go far beyond gay rights. It gives religious people a general exemption from every law, rule, and regulation at every level of government -- state, county, and local -- unless the government can show a "government interest of the highest magnitude." It's not much of an exaggeration to say that it establishes "special rights" for religious people.

    What does it mean for gay people? It means that local governments will not be able to enact meaningful anti-discrimination laws to protect gay people. Religious people, who are the main group doing the discriminating, will simply claim their religious exemption. Also, because there is no exception for government employees, gay people might be refused government services by anti-gay government employees. You can imagine all sorts of scenarios. The burden would shift to the gay person or the government to prove that requiring the government employee to perform his duties despite his religion is a "compelling government interest."

    Repealing this law is only a first step. We still need public accommodation and employment anti-discrimination laws in Mississippi and nationwide.

    If you want to read the Mississippi legislation, you can find the text here. It's quite short, and not difficult to understand. As citizens, we should all get in the practice of reading legislation rather than relying on others' characterization of it.

    Posted by: Merv | Apr 6, 2014 3:02:20 PM

  11. "Mississippi and several of the other states on the Gulf of Mexico have no high tech industry (and never will). Hence, there is no pressure from business to change this law."

    @frank - when commenting on the tech industry in gulf states, please fact check first, or you'll appear to be an uninformed jerk.

    just among it, private aerospace, nasa, military, and related industries, there are thousands of high tech companies in the gulf states, and that doesn't include manufacturing.

    Posted by: northalabama | Apr 6, 2014 3:27:01 PM

  12. "Religious Freedom" is nothing more than two words for hate to hide behind.

    "Religious Freedom" will be the ruination of the GOP.

    Posted by: mike | Apr 6, 2014 3:44:20 PM

  13. "religious freedom" = right to act on ignorance and hatred of those who are different. Mississippi burned once, will it have to burn again? I am not advocating violence, but let a white "christian" use the law against a Black person and we shall see what happens. SOMEONE will want to bring back slavery legally , because the Bible says so.

    Posted by: Gordon | Apr 6, 2014 3:52:07 PM

  14. The GOP policies will be the ruination of the GOP.. that and old racist white people dying.. not religious freedom. Religious freedom is in our constitution and an American value. It's just that people who think the Bible is anti gay doesn't know how to read the Bible or understand where the current text came from.

    Posted by: Steve Talbert | Apr 6, 2014 4:02:34 PM

  15. @NORTHALABAMA Among the things you list, NASA and the military were explicitly anti-gay until just a couple of years ago (how soon we forget?). Hard to imagine the corporate culture of the military-industrial complex is especially different. And if you really think that the best and brightest in the tech industry are being lured to Mississippi, you are delusional. Most highly educated and talented people would have serious reservations about raising children there (or, forget children, living there themselves for more than a few months).

    Posted by: CC | Apr 6, 2014 4:13:21 PM

  16. Why am I not surprised to read this on Towleroad? That picture is f*cking absurd.

    Posted by: JMC | Apr 6, 2014 4:17:32 PM

  17. Question - From what I understand 18 other States have the same type of law on their books so why is Mississippi such a discussing place that needs to be wiped off the face of the Earth?

    As a Gay Mississippian I would like to ask my gay brothers & sisters to support us and not have the view of "Expelle Mississippi from the Union..." Some of us that live here have no choice due to family obligations. We are also upset about this new law, but we are outnumbered here and like other postings have pointed out the newsfeeds became dark, because when it comes to MS the attitude is "why bother"!

    Posted by: JSinMS | Apr 6, 2014 4:28:34 PM

  18. Somehow I don't think the tech industries there are supportive of this kind of thing; so harming them would be counterproductive ?

    Mississippi sucks because of the specific sectarian brand of prevalent religions there.

    And the poverty. And corruption.

    Posted by: Buckie | Apr 6, 2014 4:29:27 PM

  19. While we fighting to stop this because it is blatantly unconstitutional based on public accommodation laws, here's a thought: If you -must- go to that God-forsaken (irony) place, then just wear a wedding ring, then take it off when you have left. The uncertainty that will be induced into those feeble minds will cause their circuits to overheat and you'll find yourself where you want to be doing what you were supposed to do and getting the hell out.

    Posted by: BrokebackBob | Apr 6, 2014 4:32:44 PM

  20. The gay scene is built on segregation. Gay men enjoy segregating themselves from the rest of society. Gay segregation is even worse in liberal states where the segregated gay scene thrives.

    Posted by: sam | Apr 6, 2014 5:54:36 PM

  21. The gay scene is built on segregation. Gay men enjoy segregating themselves from the rest of society. Gay segregation is even worse in liberal states where the segregated gay scene thrives.

    Posted by: sam | Apr 6, 2014 5:54:54 PM

  22. @JMC, you say that picture is absurd….but that is exactly the law that Mississippi passed.

    Well, I guess technically the Mississippi law takes it a step further….according to their law they don't even need to to have a water fountain for gays. They could just deny it to them.

    Posted by: Chrislam | Apr 6, 2014 5:58:42 PM

  23. Well ,well,well, some things NEVER change (sadly). In 1937, Bessie Smith,one of the 20th century's GREATEST blues singers,was badly injured in an automobile accident (passenger)...bleeding heavily, a driver rushed her to the nearest hosp.....only to be told... 'We don't admit 'your kind'
    (black ) here....SHE DIED before the driver could get her to alternative care...this occurred in the Clarksdale MISS,area (of course)

    Posted by: codyj | Apr 6, 2014 6:15:21 PM

  24. we might want to wait until the law takes effect, and then is actually invoked on a citizen, and woe unto the first public accommodation business that decides to go first...

    Posted by: bandanajack | Apr 6, 2014 6:18:40 PM

  25. Once
    Miss. starts denying blacks service based on religious beliefs you can bet all hell will break loose there !

    Posted by: MAP | Apr 6, 2014 6:24:15 PM

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