The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced today that the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum and the Mississippi Attorney General have recognized the right of same-sex couples to hold commitment ceremonies at the museum and that that there is no bar to gay couples who wish to rent the facilities to hold such an event.
The museum’s response comes after the SPLC sent a letter to the museum and state Attorney General Jim Hood last month demanding the museum rescind the unlawful policy or face a federal lawsuit.
The letter was sent on behalf of Ceara Sturgis and her same-sex partner, Emily Key. The couple wants to hold their commitment ceremony at the museum this fall but was aware the museum has previously refused to rent its facilities for commitment ceremonies.
“In late July, my office received a letter from Attorney General Hood advising that under Mississippi law, the application could not be refused,” said state Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith in a prepared statement.
“Based on my personal and religious beliefs, I strongly object to this, but I have no alternative, due to this advice, but to allow the processing of this permit to move forward,” read Hyde-Smith’s statement.
“However, if finalized, I will immediately begin working with other elected officials and the entire legislature to request clear and straightforward definitions about what activities can take place on the property owned by the State of Mississippi,” she continued in her statement. “I am hopeful that this matter can be put forth immediately when the Legislature convenes in January.”