Meet The People Fighting Mississippi's Hateful Anti-LGBT HB 1523

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April 3, 2017

Rims Barber

Rims Barber, 80, of Jackson, has lived in Mississippi since he came from his native Chicago in 1964 as a Presbyterian minister to participate with other clergy in Freedom Summer.

Rims came to Mississippi in an era when many people believed that God made the races separate, justifying anti-miscegenation laws and discrimination against Black people. Meeting Black Mississippians struggling against all odds to change the way things were made him to decide to make the state his home. In 1970, three years after the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling in Loving v. Virginia struck down anti-miscegenation bans nationwide, Rims officiated at the first interracial marriage in Mississippi since Reconstruction. The couple was initially barred from getting a license by a state court and had to bring a challenge in federal court to enforce their right to marry and equal treatment in Mississippi.

Rims keenly feels the way Mississippi’s troubling history seems to be repeating itself, as once again legal obstacles are thrown in the path of fair treatment for LGBT people. Rims continues to live his Christian faith by standing up against discrimination, whether in the name of religious or “moral” beliefs. Currently Parish Associate to Fondren Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Rims officiated commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples before marriage was legal in Mississippi. He has been married to his wife and partner, Judy, for 40 years. Between them, they have four children and four grandchildren.

Joan B. Bailey

Joan B. Bailey, 77, was born and raised in Jackson, MS, and she still calls it home. Now retired from long-time practice as a licensed therapist, Joan had many lesbian clients because word got out in the 1990s that she was accepting of LGBT clients.

Many of her lesbian clients discussed their fear of losing their jobs for being who they are. As a therapist, Joan considered it unethical to insert her own religion or politics into her sessions, but she is deeply concerned that if HB 1523 were to take effect, many counseling professionals may use their religious beliefs to dangerously damage their patients.

Joan is a published poet who likes to garden and arrange flowers in her spare time. She is a member of St. Andrews Cathedral in Jackson. She has been married to H.C. Bailey for 56 years. They have one daughter, one son, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Carol Burnett

Carol Burnett is the founder and Executive Director of the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative, a nonprofit working to strengthen Mississippi’s child care subsidy program serving low-income working families. Carol is also Executive Director of Moore Community House, providing Early Head Start services and Women in Construction job training to support low-income women’s economic security.

As Mississippi’s federal CCDF Child Care Administrator, Carol significantly increased child care subsidy funding. Carol was a delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, she attended the White House Summit on Working Families, and she serves as a Center for American Progress Faith and Reproductive Justice Leader. 

Carol has received many awards, including the Ms. Foundation for Women’s Woman of Vision award, the MS Religious Leadership Conference Founder’s award, the V-Day Leadership award, and the MS State NAACP Vernon Dahmer award. Carol holds a M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and is a United Methodist clergy (one of the first women in MS to become ordained).

Carol has incorporated her faith in the work she does every day, but she feels that HB 1523 does not consider her religious perspective worthy because she does not condemn LGBT people.

Susan Glisson

Susan Glisson, 49, of Oxford, was born in Augusta, GA, but moved to Oxford in 1992 to attend the University of Mississippi. Susan is not married but has been with her beloved partner, Charles Tucker, for nine years. They are an interracial couple, and they fear that HB 1523 makes them more of a target for discrimination than they were before.

Susan was the founding director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. Founded in 1999, the William Winter Institute builds more inclusive communities by promoting diversity and citizenship and by supporting projects that help communities solve local challenges. The Institute has become a de facto sanctuary for all students of difference, especially LGBT young people who are not accepted by their parents or other students.

After HB 1523 passed, Susan had to install opaque security film on the Institute’s glass doors to protect the young people for whom it had been a refuge, after the Institute received a threatening fax and felt the heightened climate of anti-LGBT animus.

Susan Mangum and Brandiilyne Mangum-Dear

Susan, 52, and Brandiilyne, 42, of Hattiesburg, are a lesbian couple who met in 2011 at Susan’s gym in Laurel and married in Palm Springs, California on April 3, 2015.

They celebrate their second anniversary the same day Barber v. Bryant is argued in appellate court — a stark reminder of the threat HB 1523 poses to equal treatment of their marriage.

Brandiilyne is pastor and Susan is director of music and worship leader at Joshua Generation Metropolitan Community Church, the church they started in September 2014 because they didn’t know of any other LGBT affirming place in the area for them to gather. After HB 1523 passed, a truck with a swastika parked across the street from the church. Brandiilyne had to take measures to protect their congregation, including armed security guards outside their storefront sanctuary. Brandiilyne thought that being rejected from her original church after she came out as gay and involved with Susan was the darkest time in her life, but when HB 1523 passed, she saw her entire state tell her that she was not worthy of love, respect, or rights.

Renick Taylor

Renick Taylor, 47, of Biloxi, is a field engineer for a brokerage firm and a Navy veteran. Renick is engaged to his same-sex fiancé Duane, whom he met the day after Thanksgiving in 2013. During their first date at the Waffle House, they discussed whether they wanted children and both said they would like to be foster parents. They plan to get married at the Biloxi Visitors Center in July.

A man of faith, Renick is a member of the vestry at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi. He also serves as chair of a Harrison County election committee. After HB 1523 passed, Renick worried whether staff at the county clerk’s office might refuse to serve him when he goes for this marriage license because of that person’s religious beliefs — an experience that would be devastating.

Dorothy C. Triplett

Dorothy Triplett, age 78, of Jackson, moved to Mississippi in 1978 from her native Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dorothy worked for years with CONTACT the Crisis Line, a 24/7 nonprofit crisis hotline which offers a listening ear or online chat to people with different kinds of trauma or emotional issues. LGBT people have called the crisis line or come to chat online looking for a caring, accepting, non-judgmental person.

Dorothy believes that if allowed to take effect, HB 1523 will cause increased trauma to LGBT Mississippians, including those who reach out to CONTACT, particularly those who are experiencing suicidal ideation because of the trauma and stigma they experience. Also, Dorothy has been married twice, the second time to a man, now deceased, who was of a different race. She knows that being married twice and also being married to a person of a different race is against the sincerely held religious convictions of some people.

She does not believe it would have been the business of Mississippi to endorse the religious views of those who considered her actions to be sinful, any more than it is the business of Mississippi to endorse the similar views privileged by HB 1523. She is a committed practicing Christian, but she and many other Christians do not share the views put forth by HB 1523.