This courageous quote comes courtesy of Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. Being the governor of Mississippi, one might guess that Bryant is white, male, in his late 50s, and very conservative. As these are predominantly the prerequisites for the job (aside from the Ronnie Musgrove interlude) of the past two decades, no bonus points are awarded for a correct guess.
Before cognitive dissonance ensues, Bryant isn’t taking a political stand unpalatable to an electorate which voted 86% in 2004 to amend the state constitution limiting marriage to opposite sex couples. Rather, he’s attempting to drag Mississippi, at least the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, boldly into a future where a predominantly white Baptist congregation will allow the wedding of a black Baptist couple (also congregation members) to simply happen in the church. Of course, those who pressured the pastor into notifying the couple that their wedding was off with 24 hours notice are characterised as a “small minority” of the congregation, that while this action is clearly unfortunate, “(we) have been portrayed as a racist church, we’re not!”.
I doubt it was a small minority of the congregation. The way the story is told by the groom, the pastor was threatened with being voted out of the congregation if he allowed the wedding to go forward. While even the pastor characterises the opposition to be a “small minority”:
The church’s pastor, Dr. Stan Weatherford, says he was taken by surprise by what he calls a small minority against the black marriage at the church. ”This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that,” said Weatherford.
They clearly must have been large or influential enough for Weatherford to notify the couple a day before the wedding that it wasn’t going to fly. Furthermore, the groom has also pointed out that he has encountered what a local reporter calls “mixed reactions” once this story went public.
I’ll let the trail-blazing Governor have the final word:
“We have enough people that won’t go and get married. I want to make every opportunity I can for any couple that wants to, to go get married.” But when asked if that should include couples where both partners are of the same sex, he added: “I wouldn’t say gay couples, no,” Bryant said. “I’d say a man and a woman. Let me make sure, let’s get that right. When I say couples, I automatically assume it’s a man and a woman.”