Gay Rights Activists Lobby For Commitment Ceremonies on State PropertyBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 22 May 2012 06:23pm |
Same-sex marriage advocates are trying to pressure Mississippi to allow non-binding commitment ceremonies on state property. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports activists delivered a petition in support of their cause yesterday.
21-year old Greenville native Clay Curry wrote the petition on the web site change.org to attempt to convince the state to allow the ceremonies for gay couples at the Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson.
"And now we are going to go onto state grounds and hand over the petitions and hand over the petitions," Curry said.
After dropping off the 13-hundred signatures, Curry explained that the ceremonies are not legally binding and that taxpaying gay citizens should have access to the facility.
"Obviously civil marriage is out of the question for gay people. But they should be able to have ceremony still. It is not like these guys were trying to falsify a marriage license. They weren't doing illegal. They just went to a public park that is funded by state dollars and tried to have a ceremony," Curry said.
The petition drive started after two gay Mississippians were told they could not rent the building for their ceremony.
That decision, says Andy Prosser with the Department of Agriculture, is because the state considers these ceremonies to be equivalent with same-sex marriage which Mississippi bans.
"A union or a commitment ceremony we believe is the same as a marriage. One thing the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and the Agriculture Museum we have to do here is uphold state law. We don't make those laws we have to uphold what the legislature does," Prosser said.
Prosser says the activists should be spending their time lobbying the state legislature.
Even if this doesn't change the rule, 19-year old gay rights activist Bob Gilchrist says the petition is a step in the right direction.
"It is a 100% percent victory. Gays are not equal in this society and we deserve to be equal. We are not second class citizens. We are not inhuman. And it is not immoral to be gay it is a natural thing," Gilchrist said.
The petition remains online at change.org.
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