JACKSON—In the four days since the launch of All God’s Children—a historic $310,000 LGBT public education campaign that’s the first of its kind in the Deep South—the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the people of Mississippi. This response comes as one fringe group in Tupelo chose to reject the campaign’s message of openness and mutual respect by falsely claiming that HRC had “declare[d] war on Christians.”
With faith at the center of the effort, on Monday the campaign launched its very first television ad in the Magnolia State featuring Mary Jane Kennedy, a Southern Baptist mother who teaches Bible study and believes her faith compels her to love others and value the worth of all human beings—including LGBT people. In addition to it and future television ads—which will run for a total of four consecutive weeks—the campaign is getting the word out in many other ways, including robust direct mail and phone bank operations, as well as online advertising, billboards, and conversations taking place door-to-door.
On Thursday, All God’s Children called thousands of Mississippians to participate in a telephone townhall to learn more about the campaign, and to speak lifetime NAACP member and State Senator Derrick Simmons, former State Representative Brandon Jones and HRC Mississippi Director Rob Hill.
“More than four thousand Mississippians from all across the state joined our conversation, and their response to our work and this campaign was tremendously positive,” said Hill, a former United Methodist minister who has lived in the Magnolia State for more than two decades. “We feel truly blessed so many folks opened their hearts to us, and we’re very encouraged to continue to share our message that we’re all God’s children, and that everyone in Mississippi should be treated with dignity and respect.”
In a poll conducted during the telephone town hall, more than 80 percent of participants believed that everyone—LGBT and straight alike—should be treated fairly, and nearly three quarters believe that LGBT people are children of God.
This response contrasts sharply with a statement released today by the American Family Association, a Tupelo-based fringe group that said HRC’s efforts in Mississippi meant it had “declare[d] war on Christians.” In the statement, the group also stated that All God’s Children was aimed to “insult, denigrate and target those who hold to Scripture.”
“We are promoting tolerance, mutual respect, and are asking Mississippians to keep an open mind about LGBT people,” said Hill. “We’re all God’s children, and it’s disappointing that they’re choosing a path that runs so counter to the teachings of Jesus Christ. It was He who taught us that we should treat others as we wished to be treated.”
All God’s Children aims to strengthen the foundation of public support for LGBT Mississippians, aid in the passage of pro-equality legislation, and bolster efforts to win marriage equality for Mississippi’s gay and lesbian couples.
The campaign is the latest large-scale effort of HRC’s Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Mississippi is working to advance equality for LGBT Mississippians who have no state or municipal level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; legal state recognition for their relationships and families; state rights to jointly adopt children; and state protections from hate crimes. Through HRC Mississippi, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.
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