Dear Mississippi

The following is an open letter written in response to the Mississippi Senate's passing of HB 1253; a bill that would allow clerks to deny same-sex marriage licenses to gay couples due to their religious beliefs:

Dear Mississippi,

We are in a very dysfunctional relationship. I defend you, stand by you, promote you all over the world, and you’ve made yourself, once again, indefensible.

Tennessee Williams was your son…a gay man who wrote of your mighty river and deeply complex characters. Now, he could be denied a cup of coffee by a so-called “religious” business.

Muddy Waters and BB King were your sons. They gave us sounds the world had never heard, but you called them “boy” and wouldn’t let them ride your buses. You also used religion to defend this position.

Cat Cora is your daughter. She celebrates your blended history in her food, while your other daughter, Tig Notaro, reinvents story telling and makes us laugh at the same time. They would not be welcome in your restaurants or your theatres.

Nina Simone wrote a song about you in 1964. Do you remember? Your name was in the title, so you should. She said “All I want is equality for my sister, my brother, my people, and me.”

Have you learned nothing?

You are last in education, yet you focus your resources on hateful and unproductive legislation, rather than educating all of us.

You have more churches per capita than any other state in America, yet you are the least Christ-like in your voting, and you continue to exclude those who you deem different and undeserving of your love and freedoms.

You will continue being the butt of the joke. You will continue to lose big business and enterprise. You will eventually lose all of us, Mississippi. You will one day wake up, and your special sons and daughters will have left you. All alone to grow old, surrounded by hate you have mistaken for heritage, which slowly, but surely, will rot away with you. Meanwhile, we will change minds, tell stories, laugh, kiss, and make new homes that celebrate and appreciate us. Our new homes will not be ashamed of us. Nor will it persecute us because of who we love, the color of our skin, or our gender. We will find community and home with those who celebrate our hearts and souls. We will continue to leave you, not because we wanted to, but because you kicked us out of the house.

Don’t claim the special you have exiled once they achieve greatness. They have done it in spite of you, not because of you.

It is with great sadness that I write this letter to you. I hope for an awakening and a change, but until then, I cannot defend you any longer.

With Love, 

Your Daughter McGhee