Starksville, Mississippi will now celebrate its first Pride Parade reversing its previous denial after a local LGBT group considered legal action.
In February, the Starkville Board of Aldermen voted against the parade despite having the majority of people at the meeting speak in support of the parade. Starksville Pride, organizers of the parade, filed a federal lawsuit citing a violation of free speech rights.
According to Starkville Daily News, Alderwoman Sandra Sistrunk requested another vote because the issue had become a “growing pain” for the city.
“I do think the last two weeks have given us time to consider several different things related to this application,” Sistrunk says. “I think we are now in a position where we can make a more measured and reasoned vote tonight.”
The vote came in at a 3-3 tie with Mayor Lynn Spruill, who has been a supporter of the event, giving the tiebreaking vote in favor of the parade.
Starkville Pride organizer Bailey McDaniel praised the board’s decision.
“This is all we wanted,” McDaniel says. “This is literally all we’ve wanted was to have the parade and to have the city behind us.”
Starkville Pride’s attorney Roberta Kaplan also celebrated the big win in a statement.
“Bailey McDaniel, Emily Turner and Starkville Pride stood up to vindicate the right to freedom of speech held by every American, no matter whether they are straight or gay. What happened at tonight’s meeting was a victory not only for our clients and for their equal dignity under the law, but also for the core principle that in this country, we do not restrict a person’s ability to speak based on whether or not we agree with what they have to say,” Kaplan says.
The parade is scheduled for March 24.