Gay Mississippians Say Harassment Still RoutineBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 29 Jul 2014 04:19pm |
Rob Hill (right) new director of HRC Mississippi
What's being called the largest survey ever of Gay Mississippians is showing that many still experience discrimination and harassment.
The survey is part of a push by Gay rights advocates to move the conversation away from the debate over gay marriage.
Nearly half of all gay residents have been harassed by a family member or the public, according to a survey by The Human Rights Campaign,
It also found that one fourth have been harassed at work, in church or by a public officials like a police officer.
Rob Hill, is the new state director of HRC Mississippi.
He says the Human Rights Campaign has established a permanent presence in the state to push for protections for gay residents.
"Mississippians by and large support protections. They may have some problems when you ask around marriage equality but most people can agree that everybody needs to have access to housing. Everybody needs to not be discriminated against. Everybody needs to be employed. And ceraintly, everybody needs ot have access to public accommodations," Hill said.
Gay Mississippians are currently not protected by state or federal anti-discrimination laws.
Antwan Matthews, a college student who recently came out, says he has heard preachers speak out against homosexuals.
"If you're telling me that God is not here to protect me and he doesn't love homosexuals and he doesn't love lesbians and transgender people. Why is he allowing me to do so much work in this community?" Matthews said.
Nine municipalities across Mississippi have passed anti-discrimination ordinances which Brad Clark with the Human Rights Campaign says is a good sign.
"We want to make sure that people have the rights and protections that they need and deserve everywhere. Protections for you and your family shouldn't depend on the zip code in which you live," Clark said.
The group says it has a lot of work to do to convince state lawmakers to publicly support protections for gay residents.
Top ranking state officials, like the governor, remain adamantly to gay rights protection saying voters in the state spoke when they overwhelmingly banned same-sex marriage in 2004.
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