Openly LGBT elected official Mercedes Ricks saw a pro-LGBT resolution passed this past April in her city. Ricks, who serves as a Member at Large on the Magnolia, Mississippi Board of Aldermen, presented the resolution to the board and saw it passed 3-2. Magnolia, the Pike County seat, is the fourth Mississippi city to pass a resolution recognizing LGBT people as dignified and worthy citizens of their community- a small but notable step towards full protection from discrimination. Other cities in the state to see similar legislation pass this year include: Starkville, Hattiesburg and Oxford.
Ricks, originally from Columbia, is a local restaurant owner in Magnolia. She says part of her inspiration for presenting the resolution to the board was an experience she had as a business owner in her Mississippi town. A few years ago, some residents of Magnolia refused to eat at her restaurant because of the rainbow flag Ricks had placed in front of the eatery. Ricks initially chose to take the flag down but after some contemplation decided that she would fly the flag proudly.
With the resolution passing, Ricks hopes that LGBT people in her community can feel the same inclusion that every resident deserves. “Every person is welcome in our great city and I am proud that we have made it clear that goes for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as well,” Ricks said.
The resolutions in four Mississippi cities may be setting a precedent in the southern state. Talks of similar resolutions have taken place in Jackson, the Mississippi capital. There has also been support for not only resolutions in Jackson, but also ordinances to further protect LGBT people from discrimination.