LGBT Activists Turn Up The Heat In MississippiBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 14 May 2014 05:24am |
The nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization is launching a campaign to expand LGBT offices in the South. Advocates feel they are riding a growing wave of support, but still face opposition from some of the highest levels of state government.
"We go to the grocery store. We pay taxes. We go to work. We are frighteningly normal. We are not activists. We are just moms,"
That's Joce Pritchett talking why she and her wife Carla Web decided to become part of a new campaign by the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign called 'Project One' America'.
The group is pushing anti-discrimination and gay marriage state laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in Mississippi.
Pritchett and Web were married last year in Maine and are raising two children but Mississippi does not recognize that marriage or allow both women custody rights to the kids.
"But that has changed in the last two to three years. People are standing up more. and with the Repeal of DOMA that gave us a lot of courage and a lot of hope that even Mississippians can have marriage," Pritchett said.
Mississippi is one of three southern states targeted by the Human Rights Campaign.
Organizer Chad Griffin held a press conference at the capitol to say they are investing more than 8-million dollars to establish a permanent presence in Mississippi to lobby for equal legal protections homosexuals.
"And changing hearts and minds isn't just about moving the needle of support. Changing hearts and minds is how we change laws. Passing more laws for non-discrimination protections in housing and public accommodation and employment at the city and local level but also ultimately passing such protections at the state level," Griffin said.
Several Mississippi cities have passed non-discrimination laws.
But there could be little appetite in the state legislature.
Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn says is not familiar with those ordinances and does not think the state is becoming more supportive of gay marriage.
"I have no idea of what the basis of that statement is. (So as far as you are concerned there is no traction toward that?) Not that I can discern, no. We still strongly believe that marriage is between one man and one woman," Gunn said.
Mississippi's 2004 constitutional ban on gay marriage passed with 86-percent of voters supporting it.
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