Editorials

Mississippi's stand on same-sex marriage is simply wrong

SUN HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD

STEVE SACK/THE MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE
STEVE SACK/THE MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

There is a serious disconnect between a state Legislature dominated by the central and northern reaches of the state and the tourism-dependent Mississippi Coast.

The latest result of that unhappy marriage is House Bill 1523, which in our opinion discriminates against gays and lesbians. Its provisions are sure to be challenged in court, which will cost taxpayers dearly. And the state is sure to lose.

But its biggest cost is the damage to Mississippi's image.

The highest court in the land has ruled: Same-sex couples have a right to marry that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

We could have accepted the wisdom of that decision and moved on, leaving matters of love and marriage to the individuals involved.

Instead, we followed the lead of House Speaker Phil Gunn of Clinton, one of the authors of HB1523, into a legal, moral and ethical swamp. But he had cosigners: Reps. William Arnold of Boonesville, Scott Bounds of Philadelphia, Bubba Carpenter of Burnsville, Andy Gipson of Braxton, William Shirley of Quitman, Dan Euanks of Walls and Randy Boyd of Mantachie.

Notice the pattern. None hail from south of Hattiesburg. The tourism-rich Coast is thankfully not represented.

Condemnation of Gunn's handiwork has been swift and widespread on social media, which for better or worse, is a major molder of public opinion.But Mississippi officialdom's attitude has been to shrug off criticism, be it for its flag, its Wild West gun laws or the Confederate emblem on its flag.

And it continues to dwell near the bottom on most quality of life measures, be it health care, education, or jobs.

This law will only make it harder to row against that tide.

What makes this even more astounding is that a majority of members of the Senate Tourism Committee voted for the bill: Sens. Lydia Chasaniol, Sean Tindell, Tommy Gollott, Josh Harkins, Briggs Hopson, Chris Massey and Chad McMahon. Tindell and Gollott are from the Coast.

They should be working to roll out the welcome mat, not backing laws that tell folks they'd be better off vacationing, or moving, elsewhere.

Think we're kidding?

The Irish Coast Pub, a popular spot in downtown Gulfport, within hours of the bill's passage posted on Facebook:

"The Irish Coast Pub is open for business to anyone who wants to come here. Period. We don't discriminate when it comes to business. We proudly serve everyone."

It is a shame businesses feel obligated, by our state leaders, to deliver such a message.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists, and cartoonists are their own.

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