Starkville aldermen rescinded a resolution passed in 2014 that denounced discrimination against anyone, specifically based upon sexual orientation, and the plus one insurance plan option available for LGBTQ+ workers and their partners.
While Starkville was praised in 2014 for being the first city in Mississippi to implement a LGBTQ+ non-discrimination policy, aldermen voted 5-2 Jan. 6 to rescind the resolution and insurance plan that had been in effect since September 2014.
According to Associated Press, the action took place with no public discussion or warning after a closed-door meeting.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman expressed his disapproval of the board’s actions following the rescind.
“I’m disappointed by the actions the board took tonight,” Wiseman said. “I’ll continue to do everything in my power to see it that Starkville is a place where discrimination in any form is never tolerated.”
Wiseman told the Commercial Dispatch that he plans to veto the decision. However, his veto will not stand if both 5-2 votes hold in an overturn.
“Mayor Parker Wiseman showed tremendous leadership, courage and confidence to represent all residents of Starkville, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Rob Hill, director of the Mississippi Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization.
In regards to insurance policies, officials in Starkville said city employees will not be allowed to purchase health insurance for unmarried domestic partners, as well as homosexual partners following the rescind.
According to the Commercial Dispatch, some aldermen accused Wiseman and Chief Administrative Officer Taylor Adams of not revealing the full impact of the resolution that would allow employees to add an adult dependent.
Board members claimed that they did not realize the entirety of the insurance change’s impact, even though September’s e-packet shows company Cox Consulting Services Inc. recognized “domestic partnership eligibility” with the extension, according to the Commercial Dispatch.
“Not one alderman said one thing about the equality resolution. It was passed under the radar on consent,” said Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn. “When this document was in my packet, it kind of concerned me. Nobody said anything, though. I trusted the person who authorized it. For any alderman to say they didn’t know (the impact of the equality resolution and the plus-one insurance extension) isn’t true.”
The HRC said in a statement on LGBTQ+ equality in Starkville that the board’s decision means they must do more community engagement to show the leaders of Starkville that equality is important to move the city forward.