Coast LGBT set to rally in Jackson for change

Published: Mar. 25, 2014 at 3:03 PM CDT
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WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Members of a coast-wide organization say it's time state laws in Mississippi protect all of its citizens. The president of the Gulf Coast Lesbian-Gay, Bisexual, Trans-gender equal rights organization says many of laws on the books in the Magnolia State discriminate against the gay community. They hope an up-coming rally in Jackson will help to bring about change.

Facebook shows the Gulf Coast LGBT equal rights group is growing daily. The organization started nine months ago with one primary goal.

''So that we could try to unite the community down here on the Gulf Coast, the LGBT community," said Jeff White, President of the Gulf Coast LGBT Community Organization.

The group knows that it takes numbers to make changes. It's the same group that protested Congressman Steven Palazzo's office after comments he made online about Mississippi and gay rights issues.

The group is now focused on changing laws in the state that they say discriminate against gays and lesbians. Same sex marriage is at the top of their list.

"Of course, we'd like to see marriage equality happen here, but it's not just about marriage. We have no non-discrimination employment laws, meaning anyone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans-gender can be fired just for that and that's not fair. We don't have any bullying laws to protect students, not just gay students, any student," said White.

Those and many others will be the topics of a rally the group will stage at the state capitol in Jackson Wednesday. It's a rally they hope will lead to face to face conversations with state lawmakers.

"And try an open up a dialog with them to get them to understand that the laws here are made for the people here and they actual represent all of us, and not just a specific group. We've partnered with the ACLU and the Dandelion Project, which is based in Laurel, Mississippi," said White.

He knows change won't happen overnight. But he said his group's fight for equality has just started.

"It's not us being gay, ruining our lives and making things uncomfortable. It's the laws that don't allow us to just be who we are. It's not like this is going to happen overnight. Not that we want to change the minds of people, but to change the hearts of people," said White.

He said federal laws offer some relief, but laws in Mississippi need updating. The rally in Jackson will be held Wednesday at noon.

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