Ceara Sturgis in 2009 wore a tuxedo for her 2010 high school yearbook senior photo (image, right.) School officials in her home state of Mississippi didn’t like that so they simply didn’t include her in the yearbook. Don’t like lesbians? Hide them from the public. Sturgis is now holding a commitment ceremony — Mississippi doesn’t allow same-sex marriage — and wanted to use a local museum for the event, after attending a wedding there. State officials at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum said no, because a commitment ceremony is like a wedding — and Mississippi doesn’t allow same-sex marriage. So Mississippi officials are trying once again to hide Sturgis from the public and deny her her rights.
The concept that something is illegal because it is like something that is illegal is illogical at best and absolutely wrong in this case. Fortunately, the Southern Poverty Law Center is representing Ceara Sturgis and her partner, Emily Key, and have given the museum until July 25 to concede.
Noting the “state-owned museum refused to allow a similar ceremony for two men earlier this year,” Fox News of course published an antigay article titled, “Lesbian demands ceremony at Mississippi museum.”
The museum has said it interprets commitment ceremonies to represent a union and cites a 2009 opinion by Attorney General Jim Hood saying it could decline such ceremonies because same-sex marriage is banned in Mississippi.
The SPLC is not challenging Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage, but says the museum should allow commitment and marriage ceremonies to take place even if the couple won’t be recognized under state law.
“The Museum’s policy is premised on a misguided and erroneous interpretation of Mississippi state law and, further, violates the United States Constitution. We intend to challenge the Museum’s policy in federal court if the Museum does not rescind its policy against same-sex commitment and marriage ceremonies and honor our clients’ request,” the letter said.
Sturgis told The Associated Press Thursday that she went to a friend’s wedding at the museum and liked it, so she thought it would be the right place for her and Key to publically profess their love. She said they’re not asking the state to recognize them as a married couple, but they just want to be able to rent the venue for a celebration like a heterosexual couple could.
“Emily and I just want to have the same fair treatment as everyone else. We want to share our love with our friends and family,” Sturgis said.
Zack Ford at Think Progress notes:
Hood’s argument fails on its face. If it were true, then it would technically be illegal to have any kind of same-sex wedding or commitment ceremony. There is a difference between not recognizing same-sex unions and declaring them to be unlawful. What Hood seems to have suggested is that Sturgis and Key could be arrested simply by declaring their love for each other in front of their family and friends, which would obviously violate their right to free speech and expression. Given the growing number of religious denominations that recognize marriage equality, such a precedent would also be a clear violation of religious freedom.
For the state of Mississippi to declare that a same-sex commitment ceremony is unlawful behavior is an egregious attack on gay community and its personal liberties. It’s nothing more than a pathetic excuse for blatant anti-gay discrimination.
The American Family Association’s One New Now also published an article, quoting Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver:
“Now they’re being threatened by the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC], which is an organization that supports radical homosexual agenda items,” [Staver] reports. “This particular situation, I think, is one where in Mississippi, same-sex marriage is not recognized. And so it would be impermissible, I think, completely wrong to use government facilities to recognize something that is absolutely banned in the state of Mississippi.”
But Staver emphasizes that “the agenda of the sexual anarchist movement” is “to put this issue up — homosexuality, lesbianism and whatever the nomenclature of the alphabet may be from day to day — to simply push this into your face and to shove it down the throats of the American people. I believe that this threat of homosexuality and same-sex unions is the biggest threat to our family, to our morality and to our freedom that we face here in America,” the attorney concludes.
As for Mississippi, he believes the state stands on solid ground as it faces the threat of a lawsuit if it does not approve the ceremony by July 25.
Jeremy Hooper at Good As You responds to Staver:
I seriously can’t even comment on this. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go join my husband (aka fellow family threatener) at dinner (aka menu-based morality molester), where we we will consume pasta (aka freedom—fouling fusilli) and drink red wine (aka sexual anarchy’s chosen lubricant). Until tomorrow, my dear readers (aka nuclear bombs lying wait to destroy all that is holy).
According to readers, comments at One New Now are being deleted if they criticize Christianity.
Ceara Sturgis won her lawsuit against her high school last year.
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