Push for gay rights takes the stage at state capitol
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - "Black, white, gay, straight, love does not discriminate," chanted protesters outside the state capitol Thursday.
Their words of protest were just as colorful as their flags and their signs helped pushed their message.
"Liberty and justice for all. That's all inclusive," shouted one protester.
They're members and supporters of the LGBT community from across Mississippi bringing that message to the state capitol, pushing not just for gay rights, but human rights.
"It's our job to love other people," said Bob Gilchrist, 18, who put it all together, mainly through social media.
Gilchrist says being made fun of growing up gay only energizes his passion for change, in a place not known for progressive legislation.
"We're not going to settle as second class citizens and we're going to keep on protesting until the day that we become equal citizens," said Gilchrist.
Gilchrist says that day may be a long way off in Mississippi but those who share his stance say they're hopeful.
"We just want what everyone else has. We want to be treated as equal citizens," said GetEQUAL activist Zach Magee.
Magee says with movements like gay marriage happening across the nation, it's time more conservative states like Mississippi embrace social change, which Magee says is a modern day civil rights battle.
"I'm saddened that I do live in a state that is so conservative and that hasn't even come close to addressing the issue but it gives me great hope seeing it happen throughout the country," said Magee.
The protest started out as a march from Jackson's Fondren neighborhood to the state capitol but the march was shut down right as it was about to start by the Jackson Police Department, citing safety concerns and permit issues. Organizers claim they filed for a permit, meeting the proper requirements, only to have it denied when they started marching. It didn't however, stop them from being heard.
"There's a whole anti-gay culture in Mississippi and I want to battle that head on," said Gilchrist.
Advocates say there's often misconceptions about the gay community and only by showing up in numbers and addressing them can change be ushered in.
"We're not a stigma, we're not freaks that live underground, we're ordinary people that happen to be gay and homosexuality is very real and you can't pray it away," said Gilchrist.
Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.