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Mississippi hotel-restaurant chief details anti-LGBT law's fallout

MISSISSIPPI HOSPITALITY AND RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION

The head of Mississippi's Hospitality and Restaurant Association said Thursday he has had "countless" emails and phone calls from people upset with the state's new "religious freedom" law.

"Yes, most have come from the LGBT community," Mike Cashion, executive director of MHRA, wrote in a statement making the rounds on social media. "But a significant number have come from outside the LGBT community. The reaction and its impact is real. It is broad-based in nature. The hospitality industry' is already feeling the affects."

Among those effects: A family that had planned to visit the Delta and Bay St. Louis for several days. They told Cashion they'll be going to New Orleans and Galveston instead, "never setting foot in our state.

"No gas purchased. No food consumed. No overnight stay. Nothing."

Another group from Florida is taking a 300-person event to another state.

Cashion said those aren't isolated examples.

"Specific plans were shared," he wrote. "And cancelled."

He said even if the issue dies down in the media, the financial effects could be felt for some time.

"It is also understood that there are many people that appreciate the protection HB 1523 affords," he said. "We also understand a significant number of Mississippians support the bill. We certainly respect those individuals and the legislative process.

"However the vast majority of our members have indicated that they did and still do not feel the need for such protections. They are in business to make money and serve their guests ... all of their guests. Those guests taking their business elsewhere demand nothing short of a full repeal, an action that is apparently unlikely."

He is urging businesses to display door decals with the Everyone's Welcome Here message.

He said he's getting requests for those from as far away as California and Pennsylvania.

He said, "Send an email to info@msra.org and give me their business name and address" to get a sticker.

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