Earlier this week…

Earlier this week, Judge Carlton Reeves of the Southern District of Mississippi, denied an injunction to a same sex couple in Meridian because their marriage was not eminent.  They were planning to marry in 2017.

However, in another case the following day, which was apparently on the merits (I have not had time to read it yet), he ruled that Obergefell established law in the United States relative to same sex marriage in Mississippi and that it really didn’t matter what legislators tried to do to invalidate the Obergefell decision.

More on this over the weekend!


Reverend Hrostowski is suing the Gov

Last week, Reverend Susan Hrostowski, an Episcopal priest at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Collins and associate professor at University of Southern Mississippi, along with the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE), filed a lawsuit against the Governor, et al., claiming that HB 1523 is unconstitutional.  My hero, Roberta Kaplan, will be representing the plaintiffs in the litigation.  Hrostowski had been a plaintiff, along with my friend, Tina Sweeden-Munford, in the adoption lawsuit that Kaplan won for the plaintiffs March 31.

The lawsuit filed by Hrostowski and CSE joins lawsuits filed by both the ACLU (Oliver Diaz) and the Mississippi Center for Justice, (Rob McDuff) asking that the Courts rule HB 1523 unconstitutional.  US District Judge Carlton Reeves was assigned the case.  The number in the Southern District of Mississippi is 3:16-CV-442-DPJ-FKB.

You can read/download a copy of the Mississippi “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” as well as Hrowtowski’s complaint from the Thursday, June 16 issue of the Jackson Free Press.

Judge Reeves has set a hearing for June 20th in Jackson.


What do you say?

What do you say after Orlando?  There just aren’t words.  There needs to be action.

Mississippi is a parochial place, and doesn’t see itself as a haven for the LGBT community — even though the US Census suggests that the percentage of same-sex couple households in Mississippi mirror the majority of other states — with about 1% of couple households being same-sex couples.

But last night there was a vigil — in Jackson, Mississippi — at JC’s, to my knowledge the oldest gay bar in continuous operation in the Capital City (25 years and counting).  The vigil was well attended, not only by the LGBT community, but by many allies.

This follows a large turnout last month to express dissatisfaction with HB 1532, which takes effect July 1.  That demonstration was also well attended by allies.

Obviously, however, such peaceful community gatherings have not fazed the Mississippi legislature.  I am not advocating civil disobedience.  That will not help.

But there needs to be action — in Mississippi.  Action for protection of the civil rights of our LGBT community.  NOW.

What to do?  I don’t know.  I wish I did.  What do you say?

LGBT — the alphabet soup of gender

When I first realized what “gay” was — besides being jolly — I was pretty old — probably in college.  I had led a fairly sheltered life as the only child of a couple who were at the First Baptist Church of wherever they were living just about every time its door opened.  When I got to law school, it seemed that “gay” was perhaps not “right” anymore, and that “gays” should be called “queer.”  Now it seems that the complete gender alphabet is captured in LGBT or LGBTQ.  Because I had always perceived the moniker “queer” to be derogatory, I always opted for LGBT.  Right or wrong, I had made my choice.

I’m glad to realize that choosing the right characterization is an issue within the LGBT community as well.  Lea DeLaria, quoted in Between the Lines, said:  “This is the biggest issue we have in the queer community to date and will continue to be the biggest issue until we learn to accept our differences, and that’s the issue. And part of me believes that this inclusivity of calling us LGBTQQTY-whatever-LMNOP tends to stress our differences.  And that’s why I refuse to do it.  I say queer.  Queer is everybody.”

If you go to the dictionary, the second definition for the word queer is a “disparaging” or “offensive slang” way to refer to a gay or lesbian individual.  But the first definition of the word is something to consider: “deviating from what is expected or normal.”  Considering that, aren’t we all queer?



I’m an Episcopalian

I realize that my faith is irrelevant to this blog in general, but it is relevant to this particular blog entry.  So listen up.

First of all, the world is small.  This revelation, from the “Sun Herald” (Gulfport/Biloxi) was sent to me by my friend, Claudia L. Brind-Woody, living in the UK.

Here’s the news:  The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, Brian Seage, has authorized all priests of the diocese to marry same-sex couples or those who identify as part of the LGBT community without obtaining permission through an advance petition.  His letter announcing the diocesan position “permits marriage in church for all couples legally entitled to marry.”  Prior to this, parishes were required to submit petitions to the Bishop requesting approval to perform same-sex weddings.

Seage said:  “Our baptismal covenant calls each of us to welcome all people and encourage diversity under their church roofs.”

Several years ago, under the leadership of Bishop Duncan Gray, III, all parishes in Mississippi adopted the following statement of inclusion:  “We respect the dignity of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, national origin, race, gender, or age and welcome and encourage them to fully participate in all areas of parish life.”


Roberta Kaplan is my hero…

Roberta Kaplan, an attorney and adjunct professor of law, is my hero.  She has repeatedly come to Mississippi (and other probably “as unfriendly” states) to begin to assist with LGBT rights litigation.  She is challenging Mississippi’s HB 1523 and has challenged Mississippi’s position on same sex marriage and Mississippi’s position on same same sex couples adopting children, among other issues.  This woman is making a significant mark on Mississippi history.

Transgender and Mississippi — thoughts from WCBI

This morning I appeared on WCBI for a few moments with Aundrea Self (http://www.wcbi.com/news/midmorning-with-aundrea/) talking a bit about Transgender bathroom issues and the Governor’s entry into the Texas lawsuit which would counteract the “Dear Colleague letter” released by the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Education on May 13 of this year, instructing schools to allow use of restroom facilities and bathrooms on the basis of “gender” rather than sex assigned at birth, and threatening a loss of federal funds for non-compliance.  It will be on the WCBI website shortly (Part I, June 3).

Multi-State Transgender Bathroom Lawsuit

Our Attorney General, Jim Hood, declined to add the State of Mississippi to the Texas lawsuit against the federal government disputing President Obama’s directive to public schools in this nation, telling them to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identities.  Hood expressed his “concerns on issues of standing in the Texas suit because no federal funding has been withheld from any school” as well as his “different legal opinion as to how the United States Supreme Court will finally decide the issue.”

The lawsuit, to which the State of Mississippi is not a party, claims that the new rules posited by the President “…go so far beyond any reasonable reading of the relevant Congressional text such that the new rules, regulations, guidance and interpretations functionally exercise lawmaking power reserved only to congress.”

However, Governor Phil Bryant told AP that he planned to join the lawsuit as soon as possible.  Maine’s governor, Paul LePage is already named separately in this lawsuit as a plaintiff; the state of Maine as an entity is not a litigant.

State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright initially indicated that her department would comply with the Obama directive, but she began to receive hundreds of letters from legislators and state leaders decrying her decision; she decided to stand with “state leadership” on the issue.  Bryant had said that “going along with the Obama administration’s social experiment would be harmful to school children and damaging to the process of educating them.”  He cited no evidence supporting his rather sweeping opinion.  Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves indicated his concurrence in the Governor’s action.