LGBT group holds silent protest - - The News for South Mississippi

LGBT group holds silent protest

A gay rights group is using a different method to get their point across today. The Religious Freedom bill that passed this legislative session has served as the launch pad for a broader discussion.

The LGBT community wants to see the state's laws reflect their views.

A group stood in a circle in Jackson's Smith Park wearing black tape over their mouths. They hope silence will make a bigger statement than the typical rally chants or speeches.

"The governor has been too silent," said advocate Todd Allen. "He has not addressed the concerns of the lesbians, gay, transgender and queer communities."

The protest comes just a few days before Governor Phil Bryant is scheduled for a trip to New York City. It's for the annual Mississippi picnic in Central Park event.

"You're going to New York City to invite them to move to Mississippi," explained Allen. "Are you only going to invite the heterosexual cisgender people to come live among us? No. You're going to invite everybody. And I think that's the attitude of all Mississippians."

A counter event is already planned for the night before the picnic. Oxford chef John Currence and two others have planned what's being called "The Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table Dinner." It's $95 a ticket and has already sold out.

"The nation is paying attention to the fact that our governor had passed legislation recently in the form of SB 2681 that in the name of religious toleration actually was an excuse for discrimination," Allen explained.

That legislation sparked a larger debate this year about equality in the magnolia state.

"We have very little activities here because the climate is so hostile for people to be open about their sexuality, be honest about who they are," said Allen. "In this hostile environment you'd almost not know that it's pride month."

Governor Bryant released a statement in response to Monday's protest and said, "Thank goodness the First Amendment protects our religious liberties and our rights to free speech and assembly."

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