Bay St. Louis council passes measure supporting LGBT residents

BAY ST. LOUIS — The City Council passed a measure Tuesday, 7-0, recognizing the dignity and worth of all city residents — including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Bay St. Louis becomes the sixth Mississippi city — after Starkville, Hattiesburg, Greenville, Magnolia and Oxford — to pass similar actions this year.

“As an elected official, we should not and must not discriminate against anyone,” said Councilman Joey Boudin of Ward 5, who made the motion.

It was seconded by Councilman Mike Favre.

Pat Robinson, Bay St. Louis resident, had requested the measure be put on the agenda.

“It sends a very clear-cut message to everyone — particularly the gay youth — that everyone is valued in the Bay,” she said. “We don’t discriminate against gender identity and expression and sexual orientation.”

In April, Gov. Phil Bryant signed the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which bans government from limiting the free practice of religion.

Critics fear the vaguely written law, which takes effect July 1, will prompt authorities to look away from anti-gay actions that are carried out in the name of religious beliefs — for example, a photographer who believes homosexuality is a sin refusing to take pictures for same-sex couples.

Bryant said he does not believe Mississippi’s law, which also adds “In God We Trust” to the state seal, will lead to anti-gay discrimination.