Mississippi Hub




Waveland, Mississippi Mayor is First in State to Declare Support for Marriage Equality

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David Garcia, the mayor of the small Mississippi Gulf Coast city of Waveland, has become the first mayor in the state to publicly support marriage equality.

Said Garcia in a Freedom to Marry press release:

“We know many people in loving and committed same-sex relationships who are active participants in improving our communities and we’ve seen how important marriage has been for them and their families. Because I believe in fairness for all American families, I support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples willing to take on that commitment.”

In May, Garcia helped get the city to pass a LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.  


Anti-Gay Mississippi Law Takes Effect

Senate Bill No. 2681, a law allowing businesses to refuse LGBT identified people service went into effect on Tuesday.

ImageBetter known as the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the provision enables businesses to cite religious beliefs as a legitimate reason to turn customers away.

Sponsored by conservative Baptist pastor and state senator Philip Gandy, SB2681 was met with unabashed support from Mississippi's governor, Phil Bryant (pictured, below). “I am proud to sign the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which will protect the individual religious freedom of Mississippians of all faiths from government interference,” Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement.

BryantOpposition to the bill, however, is widespread. If You're Buying, We're Selling is a coalition of local Mississippi businesses dedicated to stand against SB2681. The group distributes stickers to organizations wishing to display their opposition to the bill in their storefronts, letting consumers know that they're more than glad to serve any and all patrons.

John Curence, a Mississippi-based chef, has become one of the most prominent and vocal voices opposing the bill. "More than anything else, the law sends a terrible message about the state if consciousness in the state of Mississippi," Currence told the New York Times. "We are not going to sit idly by and watch Jim Crow get revived in our state."

Currence recently found himself face to face with Gov. Bryant through the 35th annual Central Park summer picnic thrown by the New York Mississippi Society. Booked months before Bryant threw his support behind SB2681, Currence turned the awkward conflict of interests into an opportunity. The following evening Currence and fellow chef Kelly English organized The Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table, a protest dinner.

If, as supporters of the bill claimed, the law was simply trying to protect freedom of speech, the the governor need only attend Currence's protest dinner and state as much. Rather than accepting the invitation, Currence explained in an interview with Buzzfeed, the governor's office responded with hostility: “I got a phone call, a dressing down by the governor’s office — they wanted to know why I would embarrass the governor like this. And then it f**king dawned on me: You a**holes don’t f**king talk to me like a sixth-grader in the principal’s office, I’m a 50-year-old man. More to the point, I’m on the right f**king side of this thing. All you a**holes have to do is come to dinner.”

Read the full text of SB2681 AFTER THE JUMP...

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New Lance Bass Documentary Film Explores What It’s Like Growing Up Gay In Mississippi: VIDEO

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Native Mississippian Lance Bass has released a new documentary film exploring the battle on the part of primarily young LGBT people to bring gay civil rights and visibility to the Magnolia State – one of the two states statistician Nate Silver predicts will be the last to embrace LGBT equality.

WREG reports:

Constance McMillenThe idea for Bass’s new documentary, “Mississippi I Am,” was born when he became frustrated with the image Mississippi was getting as being anti-gay after Constance McMillen [pictured] wasn’t allowed to take her girlfriend to prom in 2010 in Itawamba County.

“The stories kept coming out in my home state and I was like, I need to figure out what to do about this. So I sent cameras down to see what the temperature really was,” said Bass.

Four years later, the short film is done and was released Tuesday on iTunes.

“Through this documentary, you see what it’s like to be a gay kid raised in Mississippi, and yes there are a lot of struggles, but in the end what’s great is the hope and the change that you’re seeing in the state,” said Bass.

Check out a trailer for the film, AFTER THE JUMP

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Tuesday Speed Read: Mississippi, Idaho, GOProud, Bayer, Mary Bonauto, Carl DeMaio

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

McdanielHOW LOW CAN THEY GO? 

Incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign for his record on LGBT related issues. But in today’s primary, the Family Research Council announced its endorsement over the weekend for Cochran’s challenger, Mississippi State Tea Party Senator Chris McDaniel, citing McDaniel’s strong stance against same-sex couples marrying. Seems zero wasn’t good enough.

ANOTHER REQUEST TO LEAP FROG:

NinthcircuitIdaho filed a petition with the Ninth Circuit May 30, asking to skip over the three-judge panel phase of appeal in defense of its state ban on same-sex couples marrying. Less than two months ago, the Sixth Circuit refused Michigan’s request to do the same. But Idaho says the intra-circuit conflict over the proper level of judicial scrutiny to apply when evaluating laws that affect LGBT people adversely is a question of “exceptional importance.” Even more important, it argues, is the conflict over laws banning same-sex couples from marrying. Americans “understandably want the Marriage Issue resolved now,” states the brief. The Ninth Circuit is one of five circuits with active cases before them concerning statewide bans; only two –the Fourth and Tenth— have heard arguments before a three-judge panel.

GoproudGOPROUD CONSIDERS REORGANIZATION:

The gay conservative group GOProud reacted to rumors Monday that it was “shutting down.” Not so, said Matthew Bechstein, the group’s new executive director, in a press release. Bechstein said the group, which recently saw its founding members abandon ship, is considering reorganization to a “different legal type of organization.” “But if it were to actually happen,” said Bechstein, “it would only be momentary and certainly not the end of our organization.”

BayerGLAD SUES BAYER:

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders announced Monday that it filed suit in federal court last month in Connecticut against the company that produces Bayer aspirin. The lawsuit, Passaro v. Bayer, was brought on behalf of Gerald Passaro, whose husband was a chemist at Bayer until his death in 2009. Bayer initially refused to pay Passaro the survivor benefit, saying that, under the Defense of Marriage Act, it had no obligation to. But after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA last June, the company continued to refuse to pay the benefit, governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

BonautoNOTABLE QUOTE:

GLAD civil rights director Mary Bonauto in USA Today article about the string of federal court victories striking down bans on same-sex couples marrying: “We're at a point where it would be shocking if the Supreme Court said it was permissible to deny marriage licenses to gay couples."

GILL FUNDING PARK SERVICE STUDY:

The Gill Foundation is providing $250,000 to fund the LGBT historic places study announced by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell last Friday. The National Park Service will host a meeting in Washington, D.C., June 10 “to develop a framework and focus for the LGBT theme study with a group of more than a dozen of the nation’s most respected researchers and preservationists who have expertise on LGBT history and culture.”

DemaioDEMAIO’S OFFICE VANDALIZED:

Campaign staff for gay Republican Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio found their San Diego office vandalized last week. A campaign spokesperson told Associated Press that staff believe it is related to DeMaio’s efforts to curb pension costs.

AIDS LISTENING:

The White House Office of National AIDS Policy last Thursday hosted the first of three public “listening sessions” in southern states. The Office’s new director, Douglas Brooks, is leading the sessions, which started in Jackson, Mississippi. The next sessions are slated for Columbia, S.C., today and Atlanta, June 5. RSVP.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Gay Couple Kicked Out of Mississippi Restaurant on 'What Would You Do?' — VIDEO

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ABC News' John Quiñones took his "What Would You Do?" hidden cameras down to Vicksburg, Mississippi. As you may recall, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant recently signed a bill into law allowing business to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs.

BigotsQuiñones placed a gay couple in a Mexican restaurant to see the reactions they would elicit in various scenarios after it became clear to other customers that they are together. The show even went so far as to kick the couple out in order to see what would happen.

While most of the reactions are infuriating and disgusting, Quiñones does end up finding the sane and humane soul among them.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Ole Miss Basketball Star Boycotting ESPN Over ‘Nasty’ Michael Sam Kiss, Backtracks Following Outrage

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Former Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson woke up Monday morning and decided the best way to start his week was by sharing with the world his thoughts on ESPN’s coverage of Michael Sam’s emotional reaction to being drafted into the NFL.

Tweeted Henderson:

Shortly after Henderson’s initial tweet went viral, he sent out a series of additional tweets to elaborate on his homophobia before doing some serious backtracking and claiming it was all just a psychology project for a friend.

Feel free to head over to Henderson's Twitter page to read the hilariously panicked stream of consciousness in full.

CBS Sports adds that although Henderson no longer plays college basketball, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork has already tweeted his disappointment with the school’s former star.

Luckily, Henderson is not expected to be drafted into the NBA this June.

This is also not the first time that Ole Miss has had to deal with homophobia among its students. Towleroad readers may recall last October when 20 Ole Miss football players were involved in a mass heckling incident at a University of Mississippi production of The Laramie Project, with the players calling cast members 'fags.'


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