BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Bay St. Louis on Tuesday night became the first city on the coast to pass a symbolic measure in support of the gay and lesbian community. Representatives from the nation's largest gay rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, teamed up with the local LGBT chapter to push a measure recognizing the role gays, lesbians and transgender people play in communities.
The vote by city leaders came as a surprise to even those seeking passage of the measure.
"They voted for it unanimously and I'm so proud of my little city! This is extraordinary," HRC member Pat Robinson said.
They showed up at the city council meeting with a resolution, not knowing what to expect.
"Where as diversity is a critical component of a thriving successful city, where as tolerance and acceptance will strengthen Bay St. Louis as a community. Where a commitment to diversity will enhance the local economy creating a positive forward thinking environment," the resolution read.
The resolution asked for a city policy to reject discrimination of any kind based on race sexual orientation or religious believes. The unanimous vote came swiftly with no discussion from council members.
The group had expected one possible dissenting vote. Council member Jeffrey Reed is a minister of a non-denomination Church in Bay St. Louis.
"It was a citizen issue and based on our economics for the city, we support economics, so no one group stood out," Councilman Reed said. He added that had the resolution been worded any differently, the vote may have taken a different turn.
The president of the local LGBT chapter said the resolution is part of a larger platform for gay rights and equality.
"It leads us down the road to actually being able to get full equality in the state," Jeff White said. "It's a very small step. It's not, this is a law that was put on the books."
"This is an ongoing process, a legal process, an education process for all Americans. It is considered the last civil rights fight in this country," Robinson said.
The Human Rights campaign will take a similar resolution to cities all along the coast. Five other Mississippi cities, including Hattiesburg, Oxford and Starkville have already passed the resolution.
Just two weeks ago, the HRC launched Project One America, which is an unprecedented effort to dramatically expand LGBT equality in Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.
Learn more about Project One America: http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/project-one-america