Tags: gay rights | Bible Belt | Human Rights Council

Gay Rights Group Targeting Bible Belt States

By    |   Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 08:19 AM

The Human Rights Campaign is working to build local support in Bible Belt states in favor of ordinances that protect gays from discrimination. It also wants to encourage openly positive attitudes toward gay people, The Washington Post reported.

The organization is spending $9.5 million to change public sentiment in the Deep South. To do so it has recruited locals such as Rob Hill, 39, a former Methodist pastor who is now openly gay and is known for his charisma. The campaign wants to go beyond issues like gay marriage to changing negative attitudes about gays at the grassroots level, the Post reported.

The Human Rights Campaign is pressing localities in places like Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama to go beyond quiet accommodation of individual gays and codify equal treatment in local law.

It also wants to win community acceptance. Hill travels around Mississippi speaking with local elected officials and ordinary folks trying to win friends to the cause. He tells listeners that they should go with the momentum of history which is moving toward acceptance of gays as equals, according to the Post.

Eight small Mississippi towns, including Waveland, have already passed anti-discrimination regulations. In Natchez, however, local officials declined to meet with Hill even though the town has been comparatively friendly to gays.

Local gays say that, even without changing statutes, things are not bad for them. Guy Bass told Hill: "We've just lived our lives here. We're not out, I guess, but everyone knows we're gay."

Bass said the town's gays "don't shove anything down people's throats, and it's worked out for us," the Post reported.

Mary Jane Reed Gaudet, a Natchez progressive, told Hill that her town had been good to gays. "It's very accepting here, but it's just not something you talk about."

Hill says he enjoys living in Mississippi, but that he and his partner want to "live authentic lives" as openly gay.

The Human Rights Campaign is opposed by traditional groups like the Family Research Council.

"States of the so-called Bible Belt are kind of the stronghold for our position for holding firm against some of what we sometimes refer to as the homosexual agenda," said spokesman Peter Sprigg, the Post reported.

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The Human Rights Campaign is working to build local support in Bible Belt states in favor of ordinances that protect gays from discrimination and to encourage positive attitudes toward gay people.
gay rights, Bible Belt, Human Rights Council
Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 08:19 AM
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