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Council Passes Diversity Resolution

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HATTIESBURG -- Tuesday night the city council unanimously passed a diversity resolution, becoming only the second city in the state to do something like this.

"I was really excited to see changes happen in Mississippi," Beth Ann Brewer said.

"I've always considered Hattiesburg to be a pretty bright spot in a dark state," Beck Use said.

"I was surprised but really happy because it shows progress," Jasmine Wolfe said.

"This is a good thing that there is some type of understanding that, as the resolution states, that there is a deserved respect and dignity for any human regardless of background," John Taylor said.

"As soon as I saw it happen in Starkville, I said well we've got to be next," Jamie Stewart said.

Hattiesburg's new ordinance means a lot to the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community.

"When I was a teenager and I was first starting to come out, it felt like I was really alone, and that I would never see progress made," Brewer said.

"It was a very real fear of mine that I could be fired as a result of my sexuality," Wolfe said.  "I never told anybody."

But the resolution extends anti-discrimination to everyone.

"Politically, I find it slightly redundant that there has to be extra protection, but I'm not going to belittle the fact that discrimination exists," Taylor said.

It reads,  "It is the policy of the city to reject discrimination of any kind and to respect the inherent worth of ever person, without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, sexual orientation, family status, veteran status, disability or source of income."

"It's one of the foundational rules for any Christian to not discriminate," Taylor said.

He said there is a feuding stigma between LGBT and the Evangelical Church.

"The first and foremost response to help that stigma is to simply come together and understand," Taylor said. "The church needs to understand that people are people. LGBT needs to understand that as well."

Dr. Paul Talbot originally presented the resolution to the city council.  He said the laws haven't been updated since Title 7 was written in 1964.

"It's time that it gets updated and those people added so that we can bring diversity, so you feel safe that if I do a good job,that if I'm good then it doesn't matter who I go home to," Talbot said.

Residents say this ordinance says a lot about the city.

"This is a great community," Stewart said. "It's a very diverse community. We should recognize the diversity and do as much as we can to promote it and get along with another because we have so much to offer."

"I think it says we're not going to tolerate discrimination anymore and that other areas of the state need to catch on," Brewer said.

"I believe that simple initiation sends out sparks of hope to the community as a whole, and you know what hope does - it saves lives," Wolfe said.

"People are not going to care how much you know until they know how much you care," Taylor said.


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