Hancock County

Bay St. Louis council makes discovery that averts LGBT controversy



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 Supporters of an LGBT resolution proposed by the Bay St. Louis City Council pack the council chambers at Tuesday night's meeting.
WES MULLER/SUN HERALD Supporters of an LGBT resolution proposed by the Bay St. Louis City Council pack the council chambers at Tuesday night's meeting.

BAY ST. LOUIS -- In an unexpected twist, the City Council on Tuesday declined to vote on a resolution opposing Mississippi House Bill 1523 after council members discovered the city had passed a similar resolution two years ago.

Councilman Mike Favre said at the start of Tuesday's meeting that the council had unanimously passed a non-discrimination resolution in 2014 that covers sexual orientation.

Instead of voting on a new resolution, the council voted 6-0 to reaffirm the 2014 one. Discussion on the issue lasted only about 60 seconds.

The measure seemed to satisfy the pro-LGBT attendees, which came to the meeting in full force, carrying signs and flags and leaving little seating or even standing room in the council chambers.

"I'm pleased with the outcome of the vote," said Lea Campbell, a Mississippi grass-roots equality activist.

Campbell said she read over the resolution that was passed in 2014 and was satisfied with it.

"I felt it was comprehensive, so yes, I'm happy with it," she said.

Many who attended Tuesday's meeting were there to contend with the council's previous stance, which seemed to be split on HB 1523.

The controversial law states, among other things, that people and business owners can refuse services to members of the LGBT community if they feel a religious conviction to do so. Opponents of the law say it has opened the door for legal discrimination of people based upon their sexual orientation.

The city's proposed resolution, spearheaded by Councilwoman Wendy McDonald, read: "Whereas the city of Bay St. Louis strongly supports the American principles of equal protection under the law for all of our citizens, whatever their religion or sexual orientation and identity."

The issue in the Bay came to a head in April when some council members disagreed with McDonald's measure.

Councilman Jeffrey Reed said he saw no problems with HB 1523.

"Marry who you want to marry," Reed said at the April meeting, "but don't make me glorify and dignify what you made a choice for. I have a business and I'm not discriminatory in my business. As long as the money is green and you're paying me, I'll provide a service. I don't believe that the issue here is providing service."

Taking a more isolationist approach to the issue, Council President Joey Boudin said he felt the city shouldn't get involved in the state's affairs.

"Individuals can contact state legislators," he said. "It is not a City Council issue."

Nevertheless, the City Council became involved by reaffirming its 2014 resolution.

"The more cities and municipalities that pass these resolutions, the more pressure it puts on the state," Campbell said.