As a native Mississippian from Tupelo -- in fact, my ancestors moved to the Mississippi Territory in the late 1790s -- I have always defended our heritage and values, no matter where I lived or traveled.
I extolled our charity, hospitality and spirit against a bias born of long-past sins. I brought friends from across the country to our fair state to show them the real Mississippi, and I changed many minds.
On April 5, however, I was speechless against the torrent of tweets, texts and emails that rained down due to Gov. Bryant's signing of House Bill 1523. This supposed "religious liberty" law encodes discrimination against Mississippi's gay and lesbian citizens.
If you replace "gay and lesbian" with "black and/or interracial couples," the law could have easily been written in 1956, as segregationist policies were often defended as "sincerely held religious beliefs."
Unfortunately, we will now suffer a loss of jobs, conferences, tourism and taxpayer dollars to the myriad lawsuits that will inevitably lead to the law being declared unconstitutional. Yet, the stain of this law will remain, not only on our reputation, but on the many minds I had changed over the years.