Mississippi businesses say ‘We Don’t Discriminate’

mississippi_wedontdiscriminateJACKSON, Miss. — Following the Mississippi legislature’s recent passage of a religious freedom bill that opponents say could lead to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays, businesses statewide have responded by displaying a decal informing LGBT customers that their business is welcome.

The “If You’re Buying, We’re Selling” campaign started in the commercial district of Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood in early April, and has since spread statewide, reports The Clarion-Ledger.

The campaign is built around opposition to Senate Bill 2681, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill on April 3.

Opponents of the new law, which takes effect July 1, worry it could lead to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians. Supporters insist it does not authorize businesses to deny service to customers based on religious beliefs.

But a group of entrepreneurs behind the “If You’re Buying, We’re Selling” campaign want to make clear that they’ll take money from anybody willing to spend it.

“A lot of us were trying to counter the negative stuff from outside Mississippi,” said local business owner Eddie Outlaw, who was part of the creative team behind the campaign. “We wanted to let people know — not just the LGBT community but the progressive community as a whole — that this doesn’t represent everybody here.”

To drive that point home, participating businesses will display in their storefront windows a vinyl, sticker-like circle that reads, “We don’t discriminate. If you’re buying, we’re selling.”

Equality Mississippi says hundreds of companies across the state have already signed up to display the new stickers in their window. The program is free of charge and is open to any business who is opposed to discrimination of all kinds.

Olympics pressured to protect LGBT people

ioc_logoThe International Olympic Committee on April 15 came under increased pressure to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination and ensure future host countries do not have discriminatory laws on their books.

The international gay rights group All Out reiterated its call on the IOC to overhaul its selection process, citing the controversy that surrounded the Winter Games in Sochi over Russia’s law prohibiting so-called gay “propaganda.”

All Out says it delivered messages by more than 100,000 members before the deadline for public submissions on “Olympic Agenda 2020,” IOC President Thomas Bach’s project for reforms that will be voted on in December in Monaco.

All Out says more than 74,000 members signed a petition delivered to the IOC and another 41,000 sent their own messages.

The group wants the IOC to require that host countries have no discriminatory laws in place and future host city contracts include human rights pledges. It also urges the IOC to amend a clause in the Olympic Charter to specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.

In Washington, 19 members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to Bach calling on the IOC to amend its charter to ban anti-LGBT discrimination.

principal6_allout_comboThe lawmakers want Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter to “explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” the letter states. Principle 6 currently prohibits discrimination “with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.”

Among the letter’s signatories are four openly gay congressmen — Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Michael Michaud (D-Maine), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) — and GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

— by LGBTQ Nation (lgbtqnation.com). Reprinted with permission. LGBTQ Nation is a qnotes media partner.