Writing for The Advocate, journalist Kerry Eleveld reports about the impact the Supreme Court cases are having at the grassroots. You can read the entire article here but I was particularly moved by the story from Mississippi. She reports:
But to Mississippi organizer, Zach Magee, the events are both personal and a critical political statement.
“I think it’s extremely important for us here in Mississippi because a lot of times we get overlooked — Mississippi isn’t viewed as a state that has a lot of gay people in it,” says the 26-year-old Hattiesburg native who helped assemble a vigil at the state capitol building in Jackson for Tuesday night. Magee has 100 people confirmed for Jackson, which lies roughly in the middle of the state. But two other events are also being held at Gulfport and Oxford, in the southern and northern parts of the Magnolia state, respectively.
“The events are strategically placed so that no matter where are you in the state, there is an event that’s close for you to attend,” says Magee, who is the state lead for the LGBT activist organization GetEqual.
Mississippi isn’t a particularly friendly place for LGBT people to live. Beyond being smack dab in the middle of the reddest swath of the country, the state outlaws same-sex marriages and adoptions and lacks hate crimes, employment, and public accommodations protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.
Even as a native of the state, Magee says he sometimes feels unsafe there.
“It is my home,” he says, “but there are a lot of places that I don’t feel comfortable being by myself.”
Just last month, Marco McMillian, a man thought to be the first viable openly gay candidate in Mississippi was killed. Not many details (including motive) are known about the case, but Lawrence Reed has been charged with the death. McMillian was one of four Democrats set to face off in a May 7 primary to become mayor of Clarksville.
On a positive note, former Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove came out for same-sex marriage and adoption rights last week in a heartfelt op-ed at Huffington Post.
Magee was thrilled.
“I think that it’s a really big step to have a former governor come out in support of something LGBT related,” he says. “Even though he’s no longer in office, he still has a lot of support.”
But there’s still a long way to go, and Magee hopes to say in Mississippi and push for a better lot rather than seek new horizons.
“This is very important to me because it’s my life,” he says, and although the events this week are geared toward marriage, he adds, “That’s not what we are fighting for – we want full federal equality.”
Still, like many same-sex couples across the nation, Magee and his partner of two years are keeping one eye on the Supreme Court.
“If that all goes down, then we shall be at the altar,” he says.