In 2000, then Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat, signed a bill into law that banned same-sex couples from adopting kids in his state. Now, in 2013, Musgrove says he regrets that decision, citing Republican Senator Rob Portman along the way:
Like Sen. Portman, my evolution on LGBT adoption came from intensely personal reflections on my own life. What is sad to me is that my understanding of this issue did not come until after I had left office and no longer had the power to right this wrong. This reality weighs heavily on me to this day.
In every decision I made as Governor, I always tried hard to view the profound personal and individual impact of the laws I signed and policies I enacted on every Mississippian. Had I vetoed the law denying LGBT adoption, the Legislature had more than enough votes to override my veto. Nonetheless, this decision that all of us made together has made it harder for an untold number of children to grow up in happy, healthy homes in Mississippi – and that breaks my heart.
Musgrove goes on to say that marriage is a basic civil right for all. The year he left office, Mississippi voters approved a constitutional amendment on marriage equality, with 86 percent of the voters signing on. That was largest majority for a marriage ban in the entire nation. In 2011, 78 percent of Mississippians still said same-sex marriage should be illegal. (For that matter, 23 percent of the state still opposes interracial marriage.) If anyone has seen more recent polling in Mississippi, please sing out in the comments. As @Lewbowsky_Dude noted yesterday, we’re in the middle of a phenomenally fast turnaround in public opinion – maybe even everywhere.
Not living in bright red Mississippi anymore, I’m one surprised blue dot. But I’ll bet the blue dots now living in the Deep South are not shocked by this at all.
(Image: Former Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove at the 2005 unveiling of his portrait, with the artist Frank Norfleet/AP photo by Rogelio Solis )