When newly engaged couple, Stephen Walters and Kevin Garrard, went to the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum to reserve a space for their wedding commitment ceremony, they were turned away for being gay.
Attorney General Jim Hood had the following comments regarding this issue: "We are of the opinion that the Department (of Agriculture and Commerce) is certainly authorized to restrict the use of museum property for events and functions that are legal under state law. Therefore, (the department) is authorized to prohibit same gender marriages on museum property."
The spokesperson for Agriculture and Commerce Department, Andy Prosser said the following: "Commitment events, as far as the state goes, are a representation of a union, and state law says that a union can only be between a man and a woman."
Here is a link to the news article: http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20120220/NEWS/202200311/Gay-ceremony-ag-museum-nixed
Jim Hood and Andy Prosser should both be ashamed of themselves for distorting the Mississippi laws in such a way to promote their outright bigotry. By denying this couple the usage of state grounds simply because the state does not recognize their union as valid, the Department of Agriculture and Commerce is hindering their civil rights as Americans. Just because the state does not acknowledge their marriage, these two men have every right to have a wedding surrounded by their family and friends. Nowhere in the Mississippi constitution does it say that same-sex couples are not allowed to hold commitment ceremonies. Whether or not this couple chooses to pursue this site as a location for their wedding ceremony, the state of Mississippi needs to address this problem immediately and educate people about the difference between a simple ceremony and a legally recognized bridal registry. Two people of the same sex celebrating their love for one another may not be legally recognized in our state (yet), but that does NOT make it illegal!!