Mississippi is one of thirty states not legally bound by LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections. However, the state is slowly changing. Local communities are moving to guarantee protection toward all citizens with passage of LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances in several cities.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) created a project in 2014 called Project One America to expand LGBTQ equality in the South. The campaign aims at advancing LGBTQ equality in the traditional “red” states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.
The campaign features nine main goals that include creating a safer environment for LGBTQ young people and raising the visibility of LGBTQ citizen and issues with the general public.
“Project One America is the very first campaign of its kind to work exclusively on LGBT equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas,” the HRC website states, “where there are no non-discrimination protections for LGBT people at the state or local level in employment, housing or public accommodations, and where each state’s constitution expressly prohibits marriage equality,”
After extensive campaigning, Jackson passed an ordinance in 2016 following. So did the small town of Magnolia. Clarksdale is the newest addition to this group, and the third city. Their LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance became law on August 14.
The ordinance includes city-wide non-discrimination protections toward sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public accommodations, and employment.
“Clarksdale is a city that is welcoming and inclusive for all its residents, including our LGBTQ friends and neighbors,” Mayor Chuck Espy stated in a press release. “We are glad to affirm this spirit of diversity and openness with this fully-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. Thank you to the Board for standing up for fairness, equality and for our community.”
The passing of a citywide ordinance allows pro-LGBTQ forces to overturn one of the state’s most notable anti-LGBTQ laws, House Bill (HB) 1523.
HB 1523 was a “religious freedom” state law passed in 2016 at Mississippi. It allows any business or individual to cite religious beliefs as justification to deny service toward LGBTQ people.
Section two of the bill stated three religious’ beliefs: Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage, and Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.
The inclusion of the ordinance counteracted HB 1523 and allows communities to recognize LGBTQ citizens.
Jameson Taylor of the Mississippi Center for Public policy believes the ordinance use the power of government to force religious people to “bow down” toward the same-sex lifestyle. The ordinance also includes a demand for new progressive rights from landlords, business owners, and employers.
“The radical homosexual lobby is looking for local wins in the South as well as the Midwest,” Taylor told in an interview with OneNewsNow. “Their goal is to change the culture and the politics one city at a time, one classroom at a time, (and) one book at a time.”