Activists: ‘It’s illegal to be openly gay’ in Mississippi

By David Edwards
Friday, March 2, 2012 14:19 EDT
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LGBT activists march in Jackson, Mississippi
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Police in Jackson, Mississippi on Thursday threatened to arrest LGBT activists for marching on the sidewalk, citing “safety concerns” and a lack of permit for the demonstration.

GetEQUAL Mississippi lead organizer Zach Magee told Raw Story that the group applied for a permit but was denied, for reasons he suspects have to do with discrimination.

“It just seems to me that if it had been a different group or if had been anything else then it wouldn’t have been an issue,” Magee said. “You know, we do live in Mississippi. … It’s probably because it was a gay equality march.”

A provocatively worded press release from GetEQUAL had asserted on Thursday that police told “LGBT Mississippians it’s illegal to be openly gay in the state.”

“The headline was more or less a euphemism for what happened,” Magee explained. “In them telling us that we couldn’t march, that’s kind of indirectly what they told us.”

“The cops told us as we were getting out on the sidewalk, they were like, ‘If you walk on the sidewalk, we’re taking you to jail,’” he recalled.

The group of 40 or so activists did eventually make their way to the capitol where they joined with another group that had a permit to demonstrate.

“We see gay marriage passing in New York, now Maryland and things going down in California, and I think that a lot of times people forget about the small, really conservative states,” Magee told Raw Story. “Our main purpose was to call awareness to, yes, there are gay people here in Mississippi and we deserve equality just like everyone else in the whole country. What we did yesterday was kind of the first of its kind for the state.”

“Things will change eventually,” he added. “You know, sometimes it doesn’t happen when we want it to, but we just have to keep fighting and eventually it will get there.”

Watch this video from WLBT, broadcast March. 1, 2012.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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