Gay Groups Plan to Lobby Lawmakers
August 23, 2001
Box 40, Jackson, MS 39205
By Clay Harden, Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer
A coalition of gay and lesbian groups will use 2000 census numbers to lobby
state legislators to repeal sodomy laws, add sexual orientation to hate crime
laws and legalize same-sex marriages.
"We are a population that has been neglected and overlooked,"
Brenda Henson, co-founder of Sister Spirit Inc. in Ovette, said at a news
conference Wednesday in Jackson. "I call on the Legislature to form a
committee to look into the needs of the gay and lesbian population."
Sen. Charlie Ross, R-Brandon, said he supports traditional marriages.
"The Legislature already addressed this when we passed the ban on gay
marriages," Ross said.
The founder of the Tupelo-based American Family Association says census
numbers that show the state has 4,774 same-sex couples spread over all 82
counties should not influence legislators.
"This tiny fraction of the population is demanding that the
overwhelming majority of Americans change their beliefs on human sexuality,
marriage and family simply to suit the homosexual agenda," AFA President
Donald E. Wildmon said in a news release. "The gall of these activists is
Jody Renaldo, executive director of the Mississippi Gay Lobby, said the
beating death of a friend points to the need for a hate crime law that
includes sexual orientation. "I can think of seven or eight deaths where
sexual orientation was the cause," said Renaldo, who estimates 70,000
gays and lesbians live in Jackson and on the Gulf Coast.
Henson said gays and lesbians are forced to "hide who they are"
to keep a job, a home or child custody.
"We lose many of our most caring and creative people to other states
where they feel safer," said Henson. "It is part of the brain drain
in this state."
Henson said because gay and lesbian marriages are illegal, she cant be
covered by the hospital insurance of her mate, Wanda Henson.
Rusti Liner, a representative of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
of Jackson, said the state loses teens to suicide when they cant deal with
"They kill themselves rather than admit they are gay or lesbian,"
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