Starkville to hold second Pride parade

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

After the Starkville Board of Aldermen initially denied the request for a 2018 pride parade in February, the board approved a request for Starkville’s second annual pride parade at Tuesday night’s meeting. The board voted 4-3 to approve Starkville Pride’s request to hold the parade with city participation and in-kind services on March 30.

Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A’. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn voted to deny Starkville pride’s request. Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker made the motion to approve the request.

“I was glad to make the motion and approve the parade and I’m glad it went off the second time around without any — well we didn’t stub our toe,” Walker said. “I hope it will be a good parade and I don’t expect any issues.”

As previously reported by the Starkville Daily News, Starkville held its first pride parade on March 24 after the board initially denied a request for a pride parade with in-kind services and city participation during a board meeting on Feb 20. Ward 3 Alderman David Little,
Carver, Perkins and Vaughn voted against the request.

However, Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk made a motion to rescind the board’s previous denial to approve the parade with in-kind services and without sponsorship from the city of Starkville during the meeting on March 6. Sistrunk’s motion was successful with a vote of 4-3.
Mayor Lynn Spruill voted in favor of the request as the tie-breaking vote after Little abstained from voting. Carver, Perkins and Vaughn voted against the request for a second time.

A large group of people associated with Starkville Pride attended Tuesday’s meeting in support of the 2019 parade.

Starkville Pride Organizer Bailey McDaniel said she tried to come into the meeting without expectations.

“We just knew that we needed to come to have a group stand in solidarity— or sit in solidarity— with us and just be prepared for whatever was going to happen,” McDaniel said.

Yet McDaniel said she was still surprised with the vote Tuesday night.

“I’m actually really shocked that it was a 4-3 (vote) for (the parade) because we didn’t expect that,” McDaniel said. “We thought it was going to be either 4-3 for against or 3-3 and the mayor would decide.”

Starkville Pride Board Member Patty Lathan said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the vote.

“Last year when we came in we were honestly not expecting an issue so we were all kind of shocked when they denied the pride parade,” Lathan said. “So this year, even though we had kind of gotten some word that it would probably go through fine, we all were obviously a little bit worried.”

“And when they had a quick vote of 4-3 we kind of all looked at each other and were like, ‘Wait, that’s it? We got approved?’” Lathan added.

McDaniel said this year’s vote makes her hopeful.

“It makes me hopeful because before we had the ‘no’ vote, and then we had the abstention and to me...we were able to have the parade but it didn’t say anything,” McDaniel said. “But this is saying something. This is four people who have said yes and I think that’s a step in the right direction.”

McDaniel said she saw the vote Tuesday night as progress.

“I think this is kind of setting the foundation for us to be able to make this an annual event that goes just like the MLK march and rally,” McDaniel said. “You know, we submit the application, we come up, we get told, ‘yes,’ we continue on with our lives and so I think it’s definite progress.”

Lathan said she’s more hesitant to call the vote progress.

“I see it as progress, but at the same time I can’t help but have a part of me wonder if the reason they’re approving it has to do with potential legal ramifications,” Lathan said.

Later during Tuesday’s meeting, Carver, Perkins and Vaughn voted to deny a second special event request for the 2019 Martin Luther King Annual March and Rally with in-kind services on Jan. 21. The request passed 4-3.

“As to my vote on the pride parade and the request for the MLK march, I have consistently voted against these related matters and matters that pertain and directly relate to special event requests because they impose a big burden on the taxpayers,” Perkins said.

“If organizations and events want to use our streets and our city services, they need to pay for it,” Perkins added. “We need to use our tax dollars very conservatively and very prudently.”

Perkins said he aims to treat every organization the same.

“I’m not going to treat anybody differently, whether it’s the NAACP, the MLK (march) or whoever comes,” Perkins said. “My vote is going to be the same.”

Vaughn said he stood behind his vote and that he also aims to stay consistent.

“I just stand behind my vote,” Vaughn said. “I don’t have to comment on it because my vote is what it is. I’ve been consistent and that’s all it is. I stand behind my vote.”

Carver denied a request to comment.

Spruill said she thinks the process went smoothly.

“Obviously it went very smoothly and we will have a parade and it will be a wonderful event just like it was this past year,” Spruill said. “We look forward to it.”

McDaniel said Starkville Pride hopes to extend the parade through Sunday this March.

“I think we’re going to extend the weekend to Sun-day,” McDaniel said. “I think we’re going to do some kind of unity event for religious and nonreligious figures because I think it’s important for people who are of faith in the LGBTQ community to know that they are accepted and wanted for people who aren’t of faith ... who are religious or who aren’t spiritual to know that we can come together and know that people support you.”

McDaniel said she was excited for the parade.

“I think it’s going to be an amazing event, the same way it was earlier this year,” McDaniel said. “It’s nice to know that we don’t have to focus on a lawsuit...We can focus on pride, which is really exciting.”

IN OTHER NEWS

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board unanimously approved the advertisement for a new municipal judge, accepting applications through Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. Starkville’s current Municipal Court Judge Rodney Faver was recently elected as the Chancery Court Judge District 14, Place 1 and will start his new position on Jan. 1. The board will hold the interview process and potential consideration for the municipal judge position on Dec. 14 at 3 p.m.

The board entered into an executive session during the end of Tuesday’s meeting where the board moved to approve the recommendation of the Starkville Sanitation and Environmental Services Director Calvin Ware to terminate a Starkville Sanitation employee.

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