STARKVILLE, Miss. — A homosexual advocacy group that wanted to hold a “gay pride” parade in the streets of Starkville, Mississippi has filed a lawsuit against the City for voting to deny the event application.
“[T]he only objections raised against Plaintiffs’ parade were anti-LGBT religious comments directed to the parade’s LGBT content and the pro-LGBT viewpoint that the parade would express,” the lawsuit reads, filed on Monday by attorneys for Starkville Pride. “In other words, nobody raised any concerns related to logistics, security, or cost.”
As previously reported, last month, the City of Starkville denied Starkville Pride’s special event request in voting 4-3 against the group’s application. The organization sought to hold the parade in the public streets on March 24 with the provision of city services.
None of the aldermen who voted against the request commented on the reason for the denial. According to the Clarion Ledger, Ben Carver, David Little, Roy Perkins and Henry Vaughn voted to reject the parade, while Sandra Sistrunk, Jason Walker and Patrick Miller voted in favor of it.
During a public hearing on the matter, a number of residents—including the event organizers, urged the aldermen to approve the application.
“We’re asking you to join us,” remarked Bailey McDaniel, stating that the pride parade would be a celebration of inclusion.
But two others, one a longtime resident and another a pastor, urged the City not to permit such a display in the streets of Starkville.
“If anything should be held up and down our streets, it should not be this. God made Adam and Eve,” declared resident Dorothy Isaac. “Do not turn our city into a sin city.”
“I think this is [already] a very inclusive, a very friendly place, a very friendly city, a very friendly county,” also commented Thomas Rogers, pastor of Josey Creek Missionary Baptist Church. “We’ve done a lot of things for the university and to attract businesses and influential people. But every city has to have limits. Cities without walls are easily taken.”
Following the comment period, Vice Mayor Perkins made a motion to deny the application, which was then seconded. Minutes later, the majority of aldermen voted in favor of the motion.
Now, McDaniel and co-organizer Emily Turner, both students at Mississippi State University, are taking the City of Starkville to court. They argue that the City engaged in viewpoint discrimination, since the only objections to the parade were of a religious nature and not relating to logistics or other neutral subject matter.
“McDaniel and Turner were deeply hurt by the board’s unexpected decision to forbid the parade. They had worked hard to plan a celebration of their identities and their message of equal dignity—and suddenly their plans had been rejected, indeed censored, by leaders of the community they call home,” their complaint reads.
“In addition, McDaniel and Turner felt ashamed and stigmatized. They had been singled out for unfavorable treatment because they identify as lesbians and because the organization they led was associated the LGBT community,” it states.
Starkville Pride is seeking a declaration that the City’s denial was unconstitutional, and is asking the court to force the City to allow the pride parade to go forward.
The City has yet to comment on the matter. It says that it will respond to the lawsuit following a review.
Deuteronomy 30:15-16 reads, “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil. In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply. And the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.”
1 John 2:3-6 also outlines, “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, ‘I know Him,’ and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.”