Two Mississippi State University
students on Monday sued a Mississippi college town over its denial of
a permit for an LGBT Pride parade.
Bailey McDaniel and Emily Turner filed
the federal lawsuit against the city of Starkville on Monday, the AP
Last week, Aldermen voted 4-3 to deny
the event permit after hearing testimony from 18 people, two of whom
spoke against the permit citing religious objections.
“The city banned plaintiffs from
speaking in a public forum solely because it disagreed with the
viewpoint and content of their speech,” the lawsuit states. “That
hostility to their message was inextricably intertwined with
hostility to their LGBT identity and pro-LGBT advocacy.”
McDaniel and Turner are being
represented by Roberta Kaplan, the civil rights attorney who
represented Edie Windsor before the Supreme Court in her challenge to
the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that prohibited
federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of same-sex
couples. She also represented plaintiffs who challenged
Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage.
The four aldermen who voted against the
permit have refused to explain their decision.
According to the lawsuit, consideration
of the women's permit was treated differently than dozens of other
special event applications approved in recent years.
“This difference in process is strong
evidence of viewpoint bias,” the lawsuit states.