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Mississippi Town Rejects Gay Pride Parade: “Cities Without Walls Are Easily Taken”

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From staff reports

City leaders in Starkville, Mississippi voted 4-3 on Tuesday. Feb. 20 to deny a permit for the city’s first LGBTQ Pride parade.

The four members of the Board of Aldermen who voted against the request from Starkville Pride did not comment on their decision, with three of leaving the meeting through a back door, according to The Dispatch.

More than a dozen people spoke in favor of the LGBTQ Pride parade, planned for March, during a citizen comment period, while only two spoke against it:

Longtime Starkville resident Dorothy Isaac spoke against the request.

“If anything should be held up and down our streets, it should not be this,” Isaac said. “God made Adam and Eve. I’m not saying what you want to be — everybody can be what they want to be. I said he made Adam and Eve.”

Pastor Thomas Rogers, of Josey Creek Missionary Baptist Church, indicated he believes Starkville already adequately accepts the LGBT community but said the parade request sought “special privilege.”

“I think this is a very inclusive, a very friendly place, a very friendly city, a very friendly county,” Rogers said. “We’ve done a lot of things for the university and to attract businesses and influential people. But every city has to have limits. Cities without walls are easily taken.”

The permit request had originally appeared on the Board of Aldermen’s consent agenda, but was pulled for a separate vote at the request of a member. The board also reportedly held an executive session during Tuesday’s meeting to discuss possible litigation related to the proposed parade.

Starkville Pride’s Bailey McDaniel, who was left in tears after the decision, said the group planned to contact the ACLU and other pro-LGBTQ groups about taking legal action, according to the Starkville Daily News. McDaniel said she believes the permit denial was linked to Mississippi’s House Bill 1523, which allows government entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on religious beliefs.

McDaniel later told the Associated Press that she contacted the Campaign for Southern Equality to seek a lawyer. The campaign connected her with Roberta Kaplan, a national leader in gay rights litigation, and a spokesman for Kaplan say she will represent Evans.

Starkville, with a population of 24,000, is home to Mississippi State University.

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John Wright

John Wright is the editor of OutSmart magazine. He has spent two decades in the mainstream and LGBTQ media. Most recently, he served as senior editor of Dallas Voice, and covered LGBTQ issues in the state Legislature for The Texas Observer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Wright earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida. He resides in the EaDo area of Houston, where he is currently remodeling a 1930s row house.
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