Leaders of a Mississippi college town voted yesterday to allow a gay pride parade after all, reversing a previous denial and moving to defuse a lawsuit alleging discrimination and free speech violations.

Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill broke a 3-3 tie to allow the parade to move forward, after an alderman who previously had opposed the parade abstained, saying the city needed to move past the dispute. Aldermen had voted 4-3 to reject the application last month.

The parade will be held March 24.

“What happened at tonight’s meeting was a victory not only for our clients and for their equal dignity under the law, but also for the core principle that in this country, we do not restrict a person’s ability to speak based on whether or not we agree with what they have to say,” said Roberta Kaplan, lawyer for Starkville Pride and organizers Bailey McDaniel and Emily Turner.

Spruill, who doesn’t normally vote on the board, had supported the parade, saying the rejection didn’t reflect Starkville’s diversity and welcoming attitude. She got the chance to cast the deciding vote after Alderman David Little said he maintained his “principled position” but would abstain.

“I believe the city of Starkville’s interests are better served in moving forward beyond this and pressing forward on other positive matters facing our community,” Little said.

Turner, who attended the meeting, said that’s the moment she smiled.

“I think this indicates how accepting Starkville is and how much progress Starkville has made,” the architecture student who grew up in the city of 25,000 said by phone. “We’re having a pride parade approved by the city and that happened.”

“The decision not to allow a pride parade in Starkville doesn’t make me any less gay, and it doesn’t quiet my voice, and it isn’t going to make me want to move,” Starkville resident Megan O’Nan, said. “But it tells a very special part of this community that we don’t matter.”

http://sambagblog.com/gallery/2018/03/prideparademissippi.jpghttp://sambagblog.com/gallery/2018/03/prideparademissippi-120x53.jpgsambagGay Issues
Leaders of a Mississippi college town voted yesterday to allow a gay pride parade after all, reversing a previous denial and moving to defuse a lawsuit alleging discrimination and free speech violations. Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill broke a 3-3 tie to allow the parade to move forward, after an alderman...