Recently, a group of residents in the Mississippi Delta town of Greenwood hosted a house party for HRC. While the event provided an opportunity for fellowship, it was also intended for residents and city leaders to hear about HRC’s work in Mississippi and discuss ways that Greenwood might lead the way by adding protections for LGBTQ citizens.
Since June of 2016, two Mississippi cities, Jackson and Magnolia, have passed ordinances that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. These ordinances passed with unanimous and bipartisan support in their respective city legislatures because city leaders understood that diversity and inclusion are essential for economic progress and that it was the right thing to do to make all citizens feel safe and welcome.
Each year, HRC examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people through the Municipal Equality Index (MEI). Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality. Nine cities were rated in Mississippi last year: Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Ocean Springs, Oxford, Southaven and Starkville.
The gathering in Greenwood provided a clear example of the eagerness that exists among a large number of its citizens to send the message loud and clear that their city is not only open for business, but is open to everyone. We look forward to working closely with leaders in Greenwood in this important endeavor