A small-town mayor is refusing to fund the public library until it removes materials on the basis of his own personal Evangelical Christian beliefs.
The community is up in arms over the situation.
Mayor Gene McGee of Ridgeland, Mississippi has ordered his office to withhold $110,000 of funding for the Madison County Library System until they remove a number of LGBTQ+ books from their system.
The whole situation is bizarre, and yet unsurprising.
Tonja Johnson, executive director for the county library tried to reach out to Mayor McGee after failing to receive the first quarter funding for the public service. However, the mayor’s office informed her that no payment was on the way.
“He explained his opposition to what he called ‘homosexual materials’ in the library, that it went against his Christian beliefs, and that he would not release the money as the long as the materials were there.”
Despite Johnson explaining that the library is a public service for a diverse community, McGee doubled down and refused to release the funds.
The mayor seems particularly upset about a book called The Queer Bible, a series of essays from prominent members of the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters. Famously, the book includes writings from Elton John, Munroe Bergdorf, and Tan France.
However, other books, such as the children’s book Grandad’s Camper also seem to be at issue. To prevent these books from going out, McGee is trying to hold funding hostage.
Doing so on the basis of his personal religion will likely not go well.
The library board has voted to take the issue to the board of aldermen for the area before seeking legal remedies. However, Bob Sanders, counsel for the library board said that the mayor’s office doesn’t have the power to override the contract with the library system.
Johnson is currently trying to find a way to get the funds released without having to purge the LGBTQ+ books from her library.
However across the country, the LGBTQ+ finds their rights and protections under attack, as conservatives struggle to oppress them.