For American Gays, Segregation Returns To Mississippi

BY DAVID MIXNER

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.

Comments

  1. Just_a_guy says

    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?!!

  2. Frank says

    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.

  3. John B. says

    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”.

  4. steve talbert says

    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.

  5. Merv says

    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.

    http://legiscan.com/MS/text/SB2681/id/930942

  6. northalabama says

    “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.

  7. Gordon says

    “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.

  8. Steve Talbert says

    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.

  9. CC says

    @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).

  10. JSinMS says

    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”!

  11. Buckie says

    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.

  12. BrokebackBob says

    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.

  13. sam says

    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.

  14. sam says

    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.

  15. Chrislam says

    @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.

  16. codyj says

    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)

  17. bandanajack says

    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…

  18. Keith says

    the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement are similar, but not the same and your use of the segregated water fountain is in poor taste.

    a plumber not coming to fix your leaky toilet or a baker not making a wedding cake is not the same as being blown up in a church or beaten with truncheons.

    let’s all take a second for a reality check.

  19. Chrislam says

    actually the segregated water fountain is a very apt comparison.

    the torture and killing of matthew shepherd would have been an apt comparison to the torture and killing of black people.

    now if one were to compare the segregation at the water fountain of gays to the beating of black people (or vice versa, matthew shepherd to a segregated water fountain for black people) that would not be an apt comparison. but Keith….you were the one to make that jump and comparison.

  20. alex says

    These calls for boycotts based solely on the actions of politicians are ridiculous. There are plenty of good people in Mississippi (like JSinMS) who do not agree with what is happening. Virtually no elected official ever gets 100% of the vote. Why are we acting as if they have a mandate?

    It may be easy to say “Boycott Mississippi” (especially when you live in NY City like the author of this piece). But, easy is lazy. Instead of boycotting an arbitrary geographic area, why not boycott the businesses and people who support this legislation?

    If David Mixner thinks we should boycott an entire state over the actions those in power, why isn’t he telling the rest of the world that they should stop visiting the US? After all, in the majority of our country, it’s still legal to deny housing or fire someone based on sexual orientation.

  21. Rick says

    Not surprisingly, the one gay person who is from Mississippi and lives there comments and is totally ignored, while the New York and San Francisco liberals yap away, displaying their usual hatred of white Southerners, making an absurd analogy with racial segregation (blacks in Mississippi by overwhelming margins no doubt support this new law, just as they do any kind of anti-gay initiative), pi$$ing in the wind about boycotts–that nobody will pay attention to and that will have nothing but negative effects, and generally behaving like a bunch of elitist East Coast/West Coast a-holes that cause even other gay people around the country to despise them, almost as much as they despise the homophobes who pass laws like this.

    This is a stupid law that has no chance of surviving in the courts……and that would have no practical effect, anyway. (I have never heard of anyone in Mississippi or most other places being denied a hotel room or a table in a restaurant because they were gay).

    No, the only people who might be effected by it are aforesaid East and West Coast elitist liberals who might show up wearing a sequined night gown and high heels and waving a rainbow flag in the face of the restaurant owner and “demanding” to be served despite their obnoxiousness–and if I were the owner of that restaurant, quite frankly, I would want to deny service to such a queen and would hope the law would support my desire to do so. And undoubtedly most gay people living in the area would agree with that sentiment, themselves.

    Another example of how “activists” now do much more harm than good when it comes to moving the ball forward on attitudes towards gays.

  22. Ed P. says

    As a gay Mississippian, I’m posting this not do defend my state but to let you know it’s not as bad as many posters lead you to believe. My state is big on talking the big talk as it is so heavily Republican and probably as much as Utah, extremely religious. I live in a large neighborhood in a city of over 35,000 people. My neighbors know or have figured out I’m gay and I’ve never in over 27 years had one negative issue. My employer knew I was gay and the only company rule, which applied to everyone, was never let your private life hurt the company. I’ve eaten out in public with my gay friends and even after leaving a gay bar with an obvious man in drag and had the most courteous service one could expect. No, it’s not the best, but it’s dirt cheap to live here. Yes, I plan to move after my ailing aged mother dies to enjoy more freedom, but from here, it is truly not the hell many of you imagine.

  23. Rick says

    @ED P. Your comments will be ignored to, because the truth of the matter is that most of these Far Left activists could not care less about the gay people who actually live in Mississippi, nor could there care less about what the actual truth is on the ground.

    And in reality, this law and others like it would never even have been considered, much less passed, by state legislatures, were it not for the obnoxious excesses of in-your-face gay activists on the Far Left and their “gender-non-conformist” garbage that has alienated them even from most gay people, as well as the general population.

    They don’t care about building bridges to others and gaining acceptance for gay people in society; they just want endless anarchy…..and it is high time that gay people in general called them out for it….

  24. Joe in Ct says

    I’m sorry, but I think everyone of conscience already wrote off Mississippi as a viable place a long, long time ago. This law only formalizes the de facto anti-gay religious bigotry that has always existed there. It has long been a state to avoid. Nothing has really changed.

  25. alex says

    “I’m sorry, but I think everyone of conscience already wrote off Mississippi as a viable place a long, long time ago.”

    What an asinine comment.

    According to the Census, there are over 747,000 people in Mississippi under the age of 18. I find it repugnant that anyone “of conscience” would advocate abandoning the LGB kids who happen to have been born in Mississippi.

  26. Arthur Corbin says

    The big money is casinos & casinos will not discriminate against one of their sources of income. Some of the casinos are boats [of various types] that can be towed to a new state. Mississippi cannot afford the loss of money & jobs the casinos provide. A conservative LGBTQ business group is talking with the casino owners to see what options there are.
    The problem with this law is it allows state residents to discriminate against any one they perceive to be gay or to use this law as an excuse to deny services [including medical & law enforcement], inclusion, information,& goods. There are going to be some harrowing stories coming out of Ole Miss this month. Maybe Rick wants to be a test case?

  27. johnny says

    The big difference is the elephant in the room:

    If you’re black, everyone knows.

    You can be gay and nobody will know unless you’re flouncing around in the hotel lobby in a feather boa.

    I wonder if the law is created simply to shut gay people up about their sexuality and keep them in the closet. If that’s the case, I’d imagine that there are many Mississippi gays that already live this way, so just continue to keep people from finding out and you’re home free.

    (sarcasm intended.)

  28. Bud Clark says

    Leave it to the courts.

    There’s no point in sending our young people down there to die AGAIN.

    I remember the Freedom Rides, the burned buses, etc. … and Blessed Jonathan Daniels, Martyr at Ft. Deposit / Haneyville, AL, just one state over.

    His martyrdom propelled the Episcopal Church into the midst of the African-American civil rights struggle.

    The rural Deep South is a TERRIFYING place. I know. I grew up there.

    Let President Obama or President Hillary Clinton send armed federal troops down there to enforce the law, as President Eisenhower did at Little Rock.

    By all means, give money to support GLBTQAI groups in Mississippi, the ACLU, etc; and we should start a foundation to help those who need to flee to “free” states … and perhaps an “underground railroad.”

    It brings me to tears to see that hateful history repeating itself.

  29. Rowan says

    JOHNNY has a point. And well come back Rick. I know it’s you because THIS is your writing style!

    I agree that many blacks are also against gays, so I don’t understand the race comparison here..at all. Gay liberals need to stop having this view that all blacks are empathetic to gay rights, in fact they are not and are very, very socially conservative, my mother included but that’s where I stop agreeing with you.

    Like I tell my black mother all the time when she gets racism from the neighbours and it shocks her because she has lived there for more then a decade, ‘they don’t like you and they never will. Get over it. It’s not personal, it’s just your race’.

    That is the same with gays-be an activist or not, they still won’t like you, they will just quietly discriminate against you.

    The only people that can change this situation are Mississippi gays, NOT gays from the East or West coast. Same with in Africa.

    Gays in Mississippi knew this was coming…what did they do? It’s up to them. Meddle and you will be lashed on like Ricks rant.

  30. Shannon says

    Returns? It never left. Mississippi:another ugly place full of close minded ass backwards cretins. They must be so proud of their small mindedness!!!

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