Residents of Starkville, Mississippi, wanted to hold the town’s first Pride parade but in a surprise 4-3 vote, the Board of Alderman denied their request.
Mayor Lynn Spruill had seemed cautiously optimistic a special permit would be approved, highlighting the diversity of the town of some 25,000. “I think it is one of those things that shows an inclusiveness in our community,” she said. “Something I have long said we are.”
Spruill later told Starkville Daily News she was “extremely disappointed.”
— Starkville Daily (@StarkvilleDaily) February 21, 2018
“It sends a message that we are not the inclusive community that I believe us to be.”
At a town meeting Tuesday More than a dozen people spoke in favor of the parade, slated for March 24, including local business owners, and students and faculty at Mississippi State University, the town’s largest employer.
Local Dorothy Isaac said she opposed the event because “God created Adam and Eve.”
“Do not turn our city into a sin city,” Isaac, one of only two people to speak against the parade, continued. “It should not be this.”
The board hasn’t denied an application since 2014, but didn’t give a reason for turning down this request. Starkville Pride organizer Bailey McDaniel now plans to take legal action. “I really wish that the city could have been a part of this historic event for Starkville,” she said. “All I can say is that this isn’t the last they will hear from us.”
McDaniel said her group will be contacting the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center and HRC.
“We will be taking action against this,” she added. “There was no [reason] to deny our application. It was a perfectly fine application. I don’t think they realized what they’ve just done.”
In the wake of the vote, several local businesses have posted stickers on their doors reading “This business serves everyone.” In a statement, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership said it believed “in the inclusive treatment of all people. We are our best when everyone is equally engaged and valued.”