Mississippians are taking a stand against discrimination. They say new legislation sparked the fire. Tuesday, Bay St. Louis brought the total of cities with anti-discrimination resolutions up to six. The others are Starkville, Hattiesburg, Greenville, Magnolia and Oxford.
Some advocates admit they didn't find their voice until recently, when it comes to LGBT advocacy. The Religious Freedom and Restoration Act seems to be what pushed them to rise up and speak out.
"LGBT people are not a protected class and so we are discriminated against often and in a lot of places," said advocate Jocelyn Pritchett.
Pritchett got emotional on a Wednesday morning call with a Bay St. Louis councilman. She was calling to thank him for the city's move to adopt a pro-LGBT resolution.
"Right now, the cities are just coming out, saying we passed an anti-discrimination policy," she explained. "We don't discriminate against anybody in our town."
Supporters say it's a step in the right direction. But, "None of the resolutions that have passed are legally binding, they are basically statements of policy."
It will take city ordinances to give the LGBT community legal protections.
"I think more than anything what we're doing is changing hearts and minds by just stepping up and saying, I'm a Mississippian," Pritchett explained. "I'm gay and I'm a mom. and I'm a business owner. And I'm a citizen. And I grew up here."
Students, faculty and staff are planning a silent protest for Saturday's Ole Miss commencement, where Governor Bryant is scheduled to be the speaker. They'll wear stickers, some including a phrase from the University creed. They're hoping to show that the "Religious Freedom and Restoration Act" Bryant signed into law doesn't reflect the values of all Mississippians.
Another way that frustration with Senate Bill 2681 has manifested is through a sticker campaign that started in Jackson. The stickers say, "We don't discriminate. If you're buying, we're selling."
The stickers give businesses in cities without resolutions a way to stand up against discrimination. Those stickers have now been requested by business owners across the country.
The Human Rights Campaign also launched a campaign called "Project One America" two weeks ago. The organization is pouring $8.5 million into advocacy work in Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama.
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