By Roy Steele
I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) last week and heard a terrific story, “Gay-Rights Movement Tackles Cultural Battle In The Deep South,” about the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and their fairly new cultural campaign to effect change in the deep south, called Project One America.
NPR’s National Correspondent Debbie Elliott was in Magnolia, Mississippi, and she interviewed openly gay City Alderman Mercedes Ricks.
“I met these ladies from here,” Ricks says after greeting guests in the barroom next to her Mariposa restaurant. “They invited me to come spend a weekend in Magnolia. We were going to go to the river and drink beer, and Katrina happened that weekend.”
Ricks says the hurricane left her with nothing but a swimsuit and river shoes. It was the people in Magnolia who helped her start over. With a wide, mischievous grin, she explains how last year she ran for at-large city alderman and won.
“You tell me what is the chance of an immigrant lesbian in Mississippi?” Ricks says.During the course of the story, the reporter spoke with Baptist Pastor Phillip Gandy, who also happens to be a Republican State Senator. [Emphasis mine]
The Rev. Phillip Gandy is the senior pastor at Liberty Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Miss. He’s also a Republican state senator and gained national attention last year as sponsor of the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Opponents say the law gives Mississippi businesses license to discriminate against gays and lesbians, but Gandy says that’s not the intent.
As for the legal and cultural efforts to legalize gay marriage, Gandy says: “If you’re a real Christian, a follower of Christ, you’re going to love people. And you love people where they are. You may not agree with people, but that doesn’t mean that we judge them and say you’ve got to be like we are. Some have asked what I thought of gay marriage. I don’t really have a thought. Scripture has spoken on that. Marriage is between a man and a woman.”Whenever I hear someone with religious training say that the “Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman” - I want to scream! The Bible says NO SUCH THING.
As is my wont, I decided to reach out to Senator Gandy, and sent him an email.
Dear Senator Gandy:
I was listening to a National Public Radio report about gay rights in the south, and heard you justify your animus toward marriage equality by stating that you follow scripture.
I know that you are a pastor in your church, and was surprised by your statement.
Scripture has NOT spoken about same-sex marriage. In fact, there isn’t ONE word about marriage equality or same-sex marriage in scripture.
I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, and attribute your statement to a memory lapse or a mistake. It might be prudent to go back and look for yourself, and if you find a passage that addresses marriage equality, I’d like to know about it.
I hope that you will reconsider your position, because the reason that you give to justify your animus, just isn’t true.
Roy SteeleYou and I know that Senator Gandy won’t respond to my email, but I feel that it’s important for us to correct anti-gay propaganda, whenever we can.
According to the Associated Press, HRC has budgeted $8.5 million dollars to their three year Project One America campaign in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, and I applaud their efforts.
Associated Press reporter Jay Reeves wrote about HRC’s unprecedented campaign to change the hearts and minds of people in the deep south.
The idea is simple, and it’s borne out in polls: People are less likely to oppose expanded rights and acceptance if they know and care for someone who’s gay. Activists hope that’s particularly true in a region that values hospitality.
The Human Rights Campaign — which calls itself the nation’s largest civil rights organization working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality — plans to open offices in each state and staff them with 20 people total, primarily residents.
Workers will meet with friends, allies, neighbors, business executives, faith leaders and community groups in an attempt to increase acceptance of LGBT people. The project is called “Project One America.”
The aim is to first change hearts and minds so that people hiding their sexual orientation will be more comfortable about coming out publicly. As that occurs, organizers believe, communities and states will be more likely to adopt laws to prevent discrimination.
“You overcome all of the objections by having conversations and getting to know your neighbors,” Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native and president of Human Rights Campaign, said in an interview with The Associated Press.Three gay cheers for HRC and Project One America, and three gay jeers to Senator Gandy for spreading anti-gay propaganda and lying to NPR’s listeners.
straight talk in a queer world. jiveinthe415.com