Mississippi Hub

Apple CEO Tim Cook Makes 'Substantial' Contribution To HRC Campaign Targeting His Home State Of Alabama

Six weeks after coming out publicly, Apple CEO Tim Cook has made a "substantial" contribution to a campaign aimed at bringing LGBT equality to his home state of Alabama. 

Cook.TimThe Human Rights Campaign announced Cook's contribution Thursday to its Project One America, an $8.5 million, three-year effort targeting Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. Cook grew up in South Alabama and attended Auburn University. 

The Associated Press reports: 

The amount of Cook's contribution to the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign wasn't disclosed, but the advocacy organization called it "substantial." ... 

The campaign includes advertising on TV and elsewhere, direct-mail fliers and staff members hired in each state.

"We hope Tim Cook's substantial personal investment inspires others to support this vital and historic project," Jason Rahlan, a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, said in an email.

President Chad Griffin wrote on HRC's blog

When Tim first learned about HRC's Project One America – our bold, comprehensive campaign to dramatically advance equality for LGBT Americans in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi – he said, “I'm in.” Thanks to his generous personal financial investment in the program, together we will move the needle forward at the local and state level, tearing down misperceptions and providing concrete protections for those who need it most.

Shortly before coming out, Cook delivered a speech in Montgomery in which he said Alabama was moving "too slow on equality for the LGBT community." The state's only openly gay lawmaker recently announced she plans to name a nondiscrimination bill after Cook in the upcoming legislative session. 

Cook, who heads the world's largest corporation, is the only openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. 

RedIn related news, Cook announced in an email to employees that Apple's Product (RED) holiday campaign raised over $20 million for AIDS research, Business Insider reports: 

"I’m thrilled to announce that our total donation for this quarter will be more than $20 million — our biggest ever — bringing the total amount Apple has raised for (PRODUCT) RED to over $100 million. The money we’ve raised is saving lives and bringing hope to people in need. It’s a cause we can all be proud to support," Cook wrote. 

Watch a video for HRC's Project America campaign in Alabama, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Mississippi Pastor Dresses His Horse In A Wedding Gown To Protest Gay Marriage Ruling: VIDEO


The above image from WAPT-TV shows the Rev. Edward James outside the federal courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi, on Friday, with his horse, Charlotte, in a wedding dress. 

James, of Chapel M.B. Church, was protesting a recent ruling from a Mississippi federal judge striking down the state's bans on same-sex marriage, a decision James hopes the judge will reconsider based on his "ridiculous" protest. 

Horse-bride"Although (the protest) is ridiculous, so is the same-sex marriage status," James told The Clarion Ledger. "That's the point I'm trying to convey to Mississippians today, and I'm hoping that (U.S. District Court) Judge (Carlton) Reeves will reconsider his ruling and that Mississippi will stay a state that will only recognize marriage between a man and a woman."

James' signs read:



In a post mocking James, the Human Rights Campaign notes that he's hardly the first opponent of same-sex marriage to suggest that gay nuptials will lead to man-horse unions: 

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association said, “The DOMA ruling has now made the normalization of polygamy, pedophilia, incest and bestiality inevitable. Matter of time,”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) once asked, “Or why not, you know, somebody has a love for an animal or-? There is no clear place to draw a line once you eliminate the traditional marriage.”

Rick Santorum told the Associated Press, “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever, to my knowledge, included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing.”

And Virginia’s Republican nominee for Lt. Governor E.W. Jackson warned the crowd during a sermon that if they don’t stop “Adam and Steve” it is going to “soon be Adam and a bull.”

I'd hate to lump James in the same category with those folks — he seems far more creative, and I commend him for giving us a break from those tired "death to gays" sermons. I'm also pretty sure James is just trying to get some publicity for his church, whose Facebook page hasn't been updated in over three years.

But James' protest does make you wonder whether the good pastor actually read Judge Reeves' 72-page decision. The decision, which has been stayed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, compared the same-sex marriage bans to prohibitions on interracial marriage and discussed in detail how gays were targeted along with African-Americans by groups like the Klu Klux Klan. 

Oh well, at least Charlotte got some fresh grass. 

Watch a video report from The Clarion Ledger, AFTER THE JUMP ...(warning: autoplay)

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Fifth Circuit Extends Stay on Mississippi Gay Marriage Ruling Pending Appeal


The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and Attorney General Jim Hood's request for a stay on federal judge Kristine Baker's ruling last month striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. 

The Fifth Circuit also agreed to expedite the process for considering the case but will not consolidate it with the cases challenging gay marriage bans in Texas and Louisiana. Oral arguments in those two cases are set for the week of January 5.  The state's briefs in the Mississippi case are due December 19. 

Read the stay below via Equality Case Files:

Mississippi Says It Will Appeal Marriage Ruling As AFA Calls for Governor To Defy It


Not surprisingly, and having barely waited for the ink to dry, Mississippi officials announced Wednesday they'll appeal a federal judge's decision striking down the state's same-sex marriage bans to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Jim-hoodMississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (right) also said he'll ask the appeals court for a permanent stay of Tuesday's decision from U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, which Reeves put on hold for 14 days. 

From The Clarion Ledger

"The Office of Attorney General has a statutory duty to argue the constitutionality of our laws. We will appeal the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and ask for a stay until that court decides the cases presently pending before it," Hood said. 

The 5th Circuit is already scheduled to hear oral arguments in marriage cases from Texas and Louisiana on Jan. 9, but it's unclear whether the Mississippi case will be heard on the same day.

Reeves' 72-page decision has garnered praise from LGBT advocates, but isn't going over well with the state's Republican elected leaders: 

"One federal judge appointed by President Obama should not be allowed to overrule the will of the people of Mississippi," Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. "I believe the Attorney General should appeal this decision to defend the 86 percent of Mississippians who voted for the Constitutional amendment in 2004."'

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn said today that he plans to work with Gov. Bryant and other state leaders to appeal Reeves' decision to set aside Mississippi's gay marriage ban.

"It is unfortunate that one judge has decided to ignore the will of the people of Mississippi," Gunn said. "On Nov. 2, 2004, 86 percent of the citizens of our state voted to support the legislative amendment on the ballot defining marriage as occurring between one man and one woman. Judge Reeves has willfully defied this law. I will fight to uphold the rights of Mississippians to determine this issue."

State Rep. Alyce Clarke, D-Jackson, who has a gay son, praised Reeves' decision. Another Democratic state legislator, Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville, said simply, "You can't usurp a federal judge." 

But Bryan Fischer (above), a spokesman for the Mississippi-based American Family Association, is calling for Gov. Phil Bryant to do just that:


Watch Fischer's rant today on AFA's Focal Point here.

Read the state of Mississippi's notice of appeal and request for a stay, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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Federal Judge Could Strike Down Mississippi's Gay Marriage Ban This Week: VIDEO


Mississippi's gay marriage ban goes before a U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves tomorrow morning. As we reported last month, the Court put Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, which is being led by DOMA lawyer Roberta Kaplan, on a fast-track after it was filed in October.

MississippiSaid Kaplan at that time:

“By setting the schedule that it did, the Court clearly appreciated the need for expedition on issues of such great constitutional and practical import. We look forward to presenting our arguments to Judge Reeves on November 12. We are confident that, having read the briefs and heard our arguments, the Court will grant the relief that our clients seek – namely, the right to be treated like all other Mississippi families who love and care for each other, pay their taxes, and do their best to raise their kids."

BryantMississippi Governor Phil Bryant (pictured) and Attorney General Jim Hood filed papers on Monday asking Reeves to uphold the state's ban, the AP reports:

Gov. Phil Bryant and Attorney General Jim Hood responded that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from Mississippi and two other states, has not recognized gays and lesbians as a group with specific civil-rights protections. Because of that, there is no reason for a federal district judge to give "heightened scrutiny" to claims of bias.

"Mississippi's traditional marriage laws do not discriminate," Bryant and Hood said in court papers Monday.

Jackson local news station WAPT filed a report on the hearing last night featuring interviews with two of the plaintiffs, Carla Webb and Joce Pritchett, who have a 6-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. Pritchett and Webb were married in Maine but Mississippi won't recognize their marriage, endangering their two kids.

Rebecca "Becky" Bickett and her longtime partner, Andrea Sanders, who were denied a marriage license earlier this year, are also plaintiffs.

The best case scenario would be for the judge to agree with the plaintiffs and rule immediately, striking down the state's ban. Advocates say they will be ready with officiants to begin marrying gay couples if that happens.

Watch WAPT's report on what might happen, AFTER THE JUMP...

Read Kaplan's "Reply memorandum of law in further support of plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction" filed yesterday, below. Plaintiffs are also represented by Mississippi attorney Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd, based in Jackson.

D.E. #25

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HRC Launches Deep South Television Campaign for LGBT Equality: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 1.57.40 PM

The Human Rights Campaign today launched the first-ever LGBT public education campaign in the Deep South - All God's Children

The first television ad features Mary Jane Kennedy, a self-described "Bible-believing born-again Christian," telling the story of her middle son coming out to her as gay and why she thinks people of faith could do a better job embracing the LGBT community.

The Associated Press reports:

TV commercials will begin airing Monday in Jackson, the state's largest city and prime media market, with Kennedy featured as a mom who struggled to understand her own sons' sexuality and believes God loves them, just like everyone else. The commercials also will be available online, as will banner ads on websites.

Other commercials may follow in Alabama and Arkansas depending on the reception and results of the Mississippi campaign. The Mississippi effort — which will cost $310,000 — is part of an $8.5 million, three-year effort launched six months ago in the three states.

Watch the spot, AFTER THE JUMP...

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