Mississippi Hub




Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant Intervenes In Same-Sex Divorce Case

6a00d8341c730253ef01a73d9f9dfa970d-200wiMississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) is opposing an appeal from a lesbian woman who is asking the state’s supreme court to recognize her gay marriage performed out of state so the state may subsequently grant a divorce. Bryant is being represented by the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. The Clarion-Ledger reports:

The high court said Monday that it would hear the case instead of assigning it to the Court of Appeals. Tuesday, justices approved Bryant's motion to intervene. It's unclear if the court will hear oral arguments or when it might rule.

In 2013, DeSoto County Chancery Judge Mitchell Lundy Jr. ruled that the Mississippi Constitution and statutes prevented him from granting a divorce to Lauren Czekala-Chatham and Dana Ann Melancon.

The women married in San Francisco in 2008 and bought a house in Mississippi before separating in 2010. They could divorce in California, but Czekala-Chatham says she shouldn't be treated differently than straight couples. 

Just last month, the campaign for Southern Equality urged same-sex couples in Mississippi to petition their local government offices to recognize their out-of-state unions, and at least one Mississippi couple was successful. It is unclear how that might affect the court’s ruling if at all.

Wesley Hisaw, Czekala-Chatham's lawyer, did mention that the U.S. Supreme Court may have an impact on this lower court decision. You’ll recall, SCOTUS will review five same-sex marriage cases behind closed doors on September 29.


24,000 Transgender People May Be Ineligible To Vote In November Due to Voter ID- VIDEO

Voting laws transgender people

Strict voter ID laws in ten states could create barriers to voting and lead to possible disenfranchisement for more than 24,000 transgender voters this November, reports LGBTQ Nation.

MapAccording to the study “The Potential Impact of Voter Identification Laws on Transgender Voters in the 2014 General Election,” about 84,000 transgender people across the ten strict photo ID states are estimated to be eligible to vote. The 24,000 transgender voters who may face barriers to voting reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In order for these 24,000 voting-eligible transgender people to obtain the updated photo IDs required to vote in the November 2014 general election, they must comply with the requirements for updating their state-issued or federally-issued IDs.

The study’s author Jody L. Herman, Ph.D, said:

“Some voters may not have the means or the ability to present the required voter identification for a variety of reasons, such as poverty, disability, or religious objection.

Transgender people have unique barriers to obtaining accurate IDs needed to vote.

As these ten states begin planning for their fall elections, educating poll workers is crucial in order to ensure that transgender voters in their states have fair access to the ballot.”

Watch the 2012 National Center for Transgender Equality's "Voting While Trans" campaign video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "24,000 Transgender People May Be Ineligible To Vote In November Due to Voter ID- VIDEO" »


Starkville, Mississippi Becomes First City in the State to Extend LGBT Domestic Partner Benefits

WisemanStarkville, Mississippi mayor Parker Wiseman has announced that his city will begin offering domestic partner benefits for its LGBT city employees - a first for the state.

The Clarion-Ledger reports:

The measure was approved by the Starkville Board of Aldermen unanimously.

The benefits include medical, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT advocacy group.

"Loving LGBT couples should have equal access to medical care, and we applaud the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen for their leadership on this critical issue," said HRC Mississippi Director Rob Hill.

WTVA adds that Wiseman also annoucned plans to appoint two LGBT liaisons to support the needs of the LGBT community. 

Back in January, Starkville became the first city in Mississippi to officially recogize the digningty of its LGBT citizens. 


Conversion Therapy Survivor Alleges Sexual Abuse During Treatment

Jeff White

Jeff White of Walls, Mississippi came out to his family in 1996 while still a student at Bethel Baptist School. His family in turn went to the church to try and figure out what to do, and the church promised that they could "cure" White of his homosexuality. This cure, evidently, consisted of attempting to rape the gay out of him.

According to White, teacher Steven Barnes was his conversion therapy counselor, and his preferred method of treatment was to rape and sexually assault White "to convince him that being gay was more painful than suppressing his sexual orientation." White dealt with ten years of emotional damage and turmoil from enduring three years of brutal "therapy", but is speaking up now in response to the National Center for Lesbian Rights' #BornPerfect campaign and its attempt to end conversion therapy in the next five years. Said White,

After growing older and witnessing so many who are still harmed by the church and by efforts to correct homosexuality through traumatic and damaging tactics like the ones used against me, I finally realized that it is my duty to stand up against those who have harmed me. By speaking out against the wrongdoings that were committed within the walls of Bethel Baptist School, I hope to shed light on the darkness that is so easily hidden within the church, and to help ensure that no one else suffers the pain that I had to endure.

BornperfectNCLR helped White file a complaint with the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department against Bethel Baptist School. White is now the executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center, the first LGBT center in the state. Barnes is now the Assistant Pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Walls, MS.

In June, NCLR launched the #BornPerfect campaign to protect LGBT kids from the harms caused by attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.


Same-Sex Couples In Mississippi Fight To Have Out-Of-State Marriages Recorded

MSflagThe Campaign for Southern Equality launched an action yesterday to have out-of-state marriages recorded in Mississippi. Same-sex couples from eight different counties tried to have their home state recognize the very real bonds of matrimony achieved elsewhere around the country, a difficult goal considering that Mississippi's same-sex marriage ban is still in place, along with their more recent religious-exemption-for-businesses legislation.

The Washington Blade reports:

Jennifer Pierce of Biloxi, who married her wife, Jena Pierce, in Connecticut last December, plan to try to record their marriage with the Harrison County Chancery Court in Gulfport.

“To us our marriage license is more than a piece of paper or even the state recognizing we are a legitimate couple,” Jennifer Pierce told the Blade, referring to their 6-year-old daughter Auna who began first grade last week. “It’s about the protection of the little girl who sees us as her parents and getting legally married was the first step of many we need to take towards the protection and well-being of our family.” 

Public support for same-sex marriage in Mississippi is likely very low, though several mayors have expressed that they have "no problem" with the ceremonies. Still, the Magnolia State represents a difficult block to tumble in the movement toward full marriage equality in the U.S.

“Couples are recording their marriage licenses to create a public record of their love and commitment,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “LGBT people in Mississippi and other Southern states simply cannot keep waiting for equality. There is an urgent need for legal protections for families and individuals in Mississippi, and so we are calling for laws to change as quickly as possible to ensure that, no matter what state you live in, you are treated as a full and equal citizen.”

Though the action's efficacy on the whole is unknown at this time, one couple did send out a celebratory tweet:

MSMarriage

Here's hoping that more of the appeals for recognition were heard and honored, and that Mississippi is on the path toward marriage equality.


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.  


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