A small town in rural Mississippi successfully prevented a local business owner from opening a gay bar, according to an investigative article written for the Huffington Post.
Earlier this year, Pat “P.J.” Newton (pictured) applied for a license to open a bar in Shannon, Mississippi (population 1,753). Newton is a lesbian. When she attended a town hall meeting to discuss the bar back in June, she was met by more than 30 opponents and presented with a petition signed by nearly 200 residents that claimed the proposed business would offer “no benefits or enhancements to the citizens of the Town of Shannon.”
During the meeting, one man said children “would be influenced” by the bar. Another woman claimed she didn’t want her son playing soccer “anywhere near that bar.” And another woman, 80-year-old Betty Scott, boldly said: “I’m antigay. I know that’s not politically correct these days, but that’s the way I feel. I’m a Christian and in the eyes of God it’s an abomination.”
At the end of the meeting, the city counsel votes 4 to 1 to reject Newton’s application.
“Hell, we know they’re gonna sue us, but that’s okay,” alderman Joey McCord was reported telling two people after the meeting was adjourned. “It will be tied up in court for two years and that’s two years she won’t be able to open.”
McCord was right. Newton is suing. She recently filed a lawsuit against the town of Shannon, claiming her civil rights to free speech and equal protection have been violated. The lawsuit also requests the court award legal fees, as well as damages for lost revenue and expenses, and issue an injunction allowing the business to open.
Most of the 60 people interviewed said they opposed homosexuality but declined to give their names. One woman went so far as to say: “I don’t think we need any bars, but we sure don’t need a gay and lesbian bar. That’s for New York and places like that. Not for a little town.”
While on her soapbox, she continued: “You’ll never get Mississippi to go for same-sex marriage. That may be 200 years down the road, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen in Mississippi.”
Asked if she knew any gay people personally, the woman replied: “I have no one in my family who is gay, I don’t. I might feel differently if I knew somebody, but I don’t.”
Photo credit: Huffington Post.