Mississippi prom case decided in lesbian’s favor

Constance McMillen, the lesbian student who was denied access to her prom in Fulton, Miss., because she wanted to bring her girlfriend, has won a court victory.

Through the American Civil Liberties Union, McMillen filed suit against the Itawamba County School District, alleging that the district’s efforts to hold a “decoy” prom for her while the students attended the “real” prom 30 miles away was cruel and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her.

On Tuesday, the district signed a consent decree, agreeing to implement a policy banning discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and pay McMillen’s attorneys’ fees and $35,000 settlement. The policy becomes the first in a Mississippi public school to ban this kind of discrimination.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Phelps to picket Itawamba High because they're just not bigoted enough

Constance McMillen
Constance McMillen

Fred Phelps and clan are going to Mississippi to picket the Itawamba Agricultural High School graduation, according to the Itawamba County Times.

What’s Fred’s rationale? According to his website:

The parents of Fulton, MS feign outrage that a filthy dyke wants to parade her “girlfriend” around at their night of fornication called a prom. They had a duty to teach their children what the Lord requires of them. They shirked this duty. The Lord repays them to their face by sending dykes, burning in their lusts, to tyrannize them.

In other words, preventing Constance McMillen from going to the prom was not enough. Constance was sent to the town in the first place because the parents didn’t teach their children properly. And they were only pretending to be outraged.

According to the local news, the sheriff is planning to be there to keep the peace but reminds folks that peaceful protests are legal. What he doesn’t say is that Phelps wants to be attacked so that daughter Shirley Phelps Roper can file a lawsuit. That’s how they make their money.

And Phelps said that he will picket to remind the people of biblical warnings against homosexuality. Interesting. I hardly think the good people of Itawamba Agricultural High need reminding or further instruction from Phelps on how to be homophobic bigots.

—  David Taffet

Another honor for Constance

Constance McMillen made headlines around the country when she sued officials at her school, Itawamba Agricultural

Constance McMillen

Constance McMillen

High School in Mississippi because they refused to let her wear a tuxedo to her senior prom and take her girlfriend as her date.

The sage of Constance’s prom — including the school’s decision to cancel it altogether and then deciding to let folks sponsor a “private prom,” and winding up with school officials directing Constance and her girlfriend to what turned out to be a “fake” prom while most of their classmates went to a different party across town — has made Constance McMillen practically an LGBT-household name.

Now she’s likely to become even more famous: She has been chosen as one fo the grand marshals for the 41st annual LGBT Pride March on June 27 in New York City, the oldest — and one of the largest — LGBT Pride parades in the country.

McMillen, 18, said: “I never dreamed so many people would support my fight to take my girlfriend to the prom, much less that I’d end up being asked to be a Grand Marshal at NYC Pride. I’m really honored and touched to be asked to be part of this celebration.”

—  admin

Constance is going to the prom

Constance McMillen
Constance McMillen

Constance McMillen is finally going to the prom.

Each year the National Center for Lesbian Rights holds what they call “the lesbian prom” in San Francisco. McMillen has been invited to the May 1 event and NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell said the group will pay for her travel.

Can you imagine being a high school senior and experiencing the ups and downs she’s gone through. First the uproar in her town that resulted in the cancellation of her school prom, just because she wanted to wear a tux and take her girlfriend.

Then she became an instant celebrity, highlighted by an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show where she was awarded a college scholarship.

Back home, to show just how nasty and spiteful they could be, a secret prom is scheduled and she’s invited to a fake prom. Rather than just plan a private party, her classmates decided that a nice bit of humiliation was necessary.

But now she gets to attend a prom in San Francisco. Hmmm … rural Mississippi or San Francisco. No matter what her classmates (and school officials) have planned for her next, this comeback kid is going to one up them with the entire LGBT community backing her.

—  David Taffet

What a line!

I don’t think there is any need here to rehash the whole Constance McMillen prom drama here in this post. You all know the story.

But I have to mention it because it the basis for this column on Salon.com titled “The night I ditched my gay prom date,” and I am encouraging everyone to go read it. It looks at the whole prom drama from a slightly different angle and makes for an interesting read.

And besides, it has one of the best lines I have ever heard, right at the very end: “What the truly cool kids know is that it’s always better to dance alone than to sway in time with a roomful of bigots.”

—  admin

Prom drama continues for McMillen

Okay, so a federal judge ruled that officials at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi violated senior Constance McMillen’s civil rights when they refused to let her wear a tuxedo and bring her sophomore girlfriend as her date to the senior prom.

Constance McMillen
Constance McMillen

When Constance, represented by the ACLU, took the case to court, the school cancelled the prom. But the judge didn’t order the school to reinstate the prom, because the school said some parents would be holding a private prom instead, and they insisted that Constance and her girlfriend would be invited and that Constance could wear a tux.

The prom was supposed to be last Friday. But early last week, the parents sponsoring it said it had been cancelled. Then the school officials said, no, the prom WOULD be held on Friday night at the Fulton Country Club.

So Constance and her girlfriend showed up. But there were only seven other students there. Seems the REAL prom was being held somewhere else, in secret, so that all the straight students could have fun without having to worry about the lesbians messing things up.

And according to Ya’ll Politics, where I found this info, school officials were in on the secret and helped the parents plan the “real” prom somewhere else. The Ya’ll Politics page says they got the story from “NMC,” but I can’t get the page they linked to to load.

—  admin

Constance wins her lawsuit, but still loses her prom

Constance McMillen wins, but still loses
Constance McMillen wins, but still loses

U.S. District Court Judge Glen H. Davidson on Tuersday, March 23 ruled that the Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Mississippi violated Constance McMillen’s cosntitutional right to free speech by refusing to allow her to attend the senior prom with her girlfriend and to wear a tuxedo to the prom.

But Constance still doesn’t get to go to the prom, because school officials canceled the event rather than let her attend in a tux with her girlfriend. Judge Davidson did not order the school to reinstate the event.

A private prom has been scheduled. But Constance isn’t invited.

Judge Davidson, in his ruling, wrote that being able to attend with a girlfriend and wear a tuxedo to prom is “the type of speech that falls squarely within the purview of the First Amendment.”

But Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, disagrees. Tim, who recently took over the AFA when his father Donald retired for health reasons, delcared in a statement released today: “This is not about speech at all, but about the homosexual agenda. It’s about the schoolyard bullies at the ACLU using an activist federal judge to force schools to normalize sexually aberrant behavior.”

Tim continued: “It’s absurd to accuse the school of violating her free speech rights. She’s been talking to anybody and everybody who will listen and the school has made no effort to stop her.”

(Interesting to note that these are the same folks who complain that hate crimes laws that include LGBT people violate their free speech rights to incite violence against gays and lesbians and trans people.)

And Bryan Fischer, the AFA’s director of issue analysis, breaks out the same old tired “same right to be straight” argument used against marriage equality efforts. He said: “The school had one policy that applied to every student equally. If Ms. McMillen wanted to bring a date to the prom, she had the same right every other student had, to bring a date of the opposite sex. She already had equal rights, but that wasn’t enough for the thugs at the ACLU. They want special rights for homosexuals, not equal rights.”

Wildmon urged other schools in similar situations as Itawamba to fight back against those ACLU thugs and promised that AFA “stands ready to help schools stand their ground,” and warned that the ACLU “is out to demolish the Judeo-Christian value system on which this nation was built, and they’ll get away with it unless we rise up to stop them

—  admin

UPDATE: No prom for McMillen

Constance McMillen
Constance McMillen

A substitute private prom has been scheduled for Itawamba Agricultural High School. Constance McMillen, the 18-year old senior who is a lesbian and wanted to attend with her girlfriend, is not invited.

A hotel owner in New Orleans offered to hold an inclusive prom at his property and pay for the bus to transport the students, including McMillen.

Instead, the private prom will be held in a furniture store in Tupelo, Miss. Now how much more fun than a prom in New Orleans will this event in Tupelo be?

McMillen, represented by the ACLU, had sued the county school board to allow her to attend dressed in a tuxedo. As a result of the suit, the school board canceled the prom and asked that a private, discriminatory party be scheduled.

—  David Taffet

Cat Cora speaks out on prom controversy

Chef Cat Cora (Photo by Robert Quailer)
Chef Cat Cora (Photo by Robert Quailer)

Okay, I admit to being a big fan of “Iron Chef America” on The Food Network. My only complaint was that they didn’t have Cat Cora on there enough. And that was before I found out that Chef Cora was an out-and-proud lesbian.

This morning I discovered even more reason to be a Cat Cora fan: She is speaking up in support of Constance McMillen, the lesbian senior who wanted to take her girlfriend to the senior prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi, but ended up seeing school officials cancel the prom completely rather than let her and her girlfriend attend.

Turns out that Chef Cora is from Mississippi, and she is, she says, “outraged” by what’s happened, and has “pledged to take action,” according to a press release I received this morning.

Here’s more from the press release:

“I was that girl from Mississippi one time,” the Wingfield High School graduate (Chef Cora) said. “I hate seeing things that reinforce negative attitudes about Mississippi like this.” Cora was in Washington last week cooking dinner for President Obama and the Greek prime minister. She said she would like to make a personal appearance at the prom. “This is the 21st century. This is a time for us to unite and support each other,” she said. “This isn’t just for (McMillen’s) civil rights. This is for all Americans’ civil rights, whether they know it or not.”

—  admin

Date set for hearing in lesbian's suit over senior prom

Constance McMillen will get her day in court. And that day will be Monday, March 22.

The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Constance, a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Miss., after IAHS officials canceled the senior prom rather than let Constance wear a tuxedo and take her girlfriend as a date to the prom. The judge has set the first hearing in the case for next Monday.

Constance McMillen
Constance McMillen

Constance and the ACLU are asking the court to issue an injunction forcing the school to hold the prom.

The prom was originally set for April 2.

In a recent interview with Dan Savage, Constance said that she has had a hard time in her hometown since th prom was cancelled. She told Savage:

“The locals don’t like me, but I can’t help it. And things were really hostile in school last week after they cancelled prom. People were rude, and if people talked to me at all it was real short answers. There are a few people who are with me, my real friends, people who are intelligent enough to realize what’s really going on here. But the majority are not on my side.”

She also asked that supporters who want to write letters to IAHS officials “please be respectful. No one hears if you’re screaming and mad and cussing and stuff. Tell them exactly how you feel, but in a respectful way.”

A Facebook page in support of Constance already has more than 320,000 fans.

—  admin