Staff Writer Jax Gay
Local leaders in Starkville, Mississippi, have performed a u-turn and given the all clear to a previously-vetoed gay pride parade. The decision come after a group of students filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination.
Starkville Pride, run by students Bailey Daniel and Emily Turner, was denied the right to hold a parade.
But in a change of mind, Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill broke a 3-3 tie, allowing the parade to continue on Saturday 24 March. It came after city alderman Richard Little, who previously opposed the parade, abstained and said the city needed to move on.
‘I believe the city of Starkville’s interests are better served in moving forward beyond this’ he said according to Associated Press.
After reversing the decision on Wednesday 7 March, Starkville Pride lawyer Robert Kaplan said:
‘What happened at tonight’s meeting was a victory not only for our clients and for their equal dignity under the law, but also for the core principle that in this country. ‘We do not restrict a person’s ability to speak based on whether or not we agree with what they have to say.
The student-run organization said their treatment also violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. ‘Without explanation or warning, a whole community of people have been denied their constitutional rights.,’ they claimed. Kaplan previously said the students were ‘denied their right to speak in a public forum.’
Mississippi is home to 60,000 LGBTI adults and an estimated 11,400 transgender youth and adults. The figures are according to 2016 data published by the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law. The state also plays home to 3,500 same-sex couples, with 29 percent raising children, the highest rate in the US.
However, the Board of Alderman voted to deny the permit despite widespread support from locals. According to the press release, the application as opposed by two people, who allegedly argued that ‘God made Adam and Eve.’ There was reportedly no logistical, security or costing concerns that would have hindered the event. The permit was originally denied by a 4-3 vote.