STOP THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI PICNIC IN NEW YORK'S CENTRAL PARK ON JUNE 11, 2016
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Shame on y'all Mississippi.
On April 5th, 2016, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law the most expansive and malicious anti-LGBTQ bill ever passed in the United States.
Now, here comes the rub that just adds insult to this injury. Can you believe the nerve of the Magnolia State, making plans for their 37th Annual Mississippi Picnic - in New York's Central Park of all places? This gathering of Mississippi natives in New York where they celebrate their state's "proud" heritage is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 11, Noon to 5:00 pm at 5th Avenue and 72nd Street in Central Park (on Dead Road – between the Bandshell and Sheep Meadow).
Faster than a New York minute, we can tell you one thing, Mississippi should not be proud, nor does it deserve to celebrate their State in this park if they don't share New York’s values of diversity, inclusion and mutual respect.
The official website for the picnic lists their mission as "To preserve the culture and heritage of the state of Mississippi." The "heritage" of Mississippi has no business being on full display in the cathedral of parks in New York City. Mississippi has routinely been on the wrong side of history and once again in 2016, the state passes legislation that puts members of the LGBTQ community at risk. At an event of this nature, Mississippi wants to claim the literary great in native son Tennessee Williams, a gay man, who if alive today could now be legally denied a meal in an Oxford restaurant because the owner didn't approve of his sexual orientation.
The measure, cloaked in the language of religious liberty, is essentially an attempt to legalize segregation between LGBTQ people and the rest of society. It allows religious landlords to evict gay and trans renters; permits religious employers to fire workers for being LGBTQ; allows private businesses to refuse services to gay people; allows clerks and judges to refuse to marry same-sex couples; and forbids trans students from using public school bathrooms that align with their gender identity.
While Mississippi organizers may argue their picnic in Central Park is not political, you need not look any further than their website ( www.TheNYMS.org ) which says the State of Mississippi has provided support over the years. The 2016 sponsor list also shows politics at play with State of Mississippi agencies along with local government funded agencies at the heart of this Mississippi celebration, providing the funds necessary to put on such an event.
Mississippi Development Authority
Mississippi Economic Development Council
Mississippi Tourism Association
In 2014, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (Did we mention the Governor has an openly gay son who now lives in Austin, TX where this new law will not impact him?) had high praise for the annual picnic in Central Park saying, "In addition to just being a great time, the picnic's a valuable way to share Mississippi's creative spirit and supportive business climate with people who may not be aware of the advantages our state enjoys.” Say what Governor? Why not try supporting ALL of your State's citizens as a starting point before taking the crazy train to Central Park.
If the City or State of New York don't stop this event from happening - or - Mississippi doesn't cancel it themselves with the good sense they claim God gave them, then we look forward to seeing you in Central Park on June 11th with your LGBTQ rainbow flags, because remember, Mississippi is the only state left in this country that still proudly displays the stars and bars Confederate flag within its official State flag.
And one last word to the wise, don't visit Mississippi, it's even worse than North Carolina. Bless their hearts.
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