An Open Letter to Governor Phil Bryant

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I try to keep politics off my blog, but this is a historic situation for Mississippi. As a gay businessman in Mississippi, I feel it is imperative that I make my voice heard and record my feelings.

An Open Letter to Governor Phil Bryant:

“The court concludes that Mississippi’s same-sex marriage ban deprives same-sex couples and their children of equal dignity under the law. Gay and lesbian citizens cannot be subjected to such second-class citizenship. Mississippi’s same-sex marriage ban violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

On November 25, 2014, the Honorable Carlton W Reeves issued a firm, well-researched opinion on Mississippi’s gay marriage ban. It recognizes Mississippi’s and the nation’s calculated, unfair, and violent past with discrimination against the LGBT community. It highlighted that continued practice of discrimination against gay and lesbians and their families is still alive and well.

Reeves’ opinion recognizes that racism and homophobia have intersected in Mississippi’s past and present. The same tools, systems, and arguments have been, and are used, by the majority to unconstitutionally restrict the rights of citizens. This is not a gay or straight marriage issue. This is about an unfair system that’s designed to oppress those it can oppress and limit the rights of Mississippians using the whim of legislators and the citizens of Mississippi.

The opinion uses examples of witch hunts against Mississippians including Ted Russel, Congressman Jon Hinson, teachers from MUW, and countless students across the state. It demonstrated the animus the government of Mississippi, its legislators, its law enforcement, and its people have inflicted upon Mississippi’s LGBT community for centuries.

The witch hunts must end. The disparities must end. The cruel and unfair treatment of your fellow citizens must end.  The war on law-abiding citizens must end. And, it can start with you.

You say you’re pro-business? Defending this law will do nothing but cause talented minds to flee the state and cause countless talented people to ignore job opportunities in this state. Defending this law will send a message to big businesses that Mississippi does not value all of its citizens. In other words, defending the ban will hurt Mississippi’s business environment and will cost it financially. That’s not good business.

Mr. Bryant, you have the opportunity to take a stand… Two choices really. A stand on the right or the wrong side of history. Your options are clear: defend an unconstitutional ban enacted by hate and fueled by unfounded, unscientific, religious fear-mongering; or uphold Judge Reeves’ (and very likely the Supreme Court’s) decision that marriage equality is a fundamental right.

If you choose to defend Mississippi’s unconstitutional, gay-marriage ban, history will record it. It will record that you wasted hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars that could be better spent on education, infrastructure, business development, and in countless other areas.

History will record that you and the Attorney General defended a law that definitively damages the lives and families of the citizens you represent.

To be clear, the ban—and countless laws against LGBT citizens—physically, psychologically, and spiritually harms Mississippi residents including members of your own family, staffers, government employees, needy families, and countless teens desperate to find acceptance in a sea of hate.

As they say, history is written by the winner. There is no doubt you are fighting a losing battle in a war that was lost years ago. I urge you to stand on the right side of history… For the young kid that needs a father’s acceptance, for the families that need and deserve protections and fair treatment, and for the history of Mississippi. You have the opportunity to do what’s right—to do what’s right for your own family members and employees, as well as families and citizens of Mississippi.

The history on this issue has not been fully penned. You and the Attorney General will be remembered by the actions you take in the next few days.

How will history remember you, Mr. Bryant?

“Mississippi law perpetuates the false notion of gay inferiority by denying equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian citizens, prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from adopting children together, and requiring schools to teach the idea that gay sex is criminal.”

Read more about Judge Reeves’ ruling.

Credit: Photo