July 30, 2014 at 6:01 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
EXCLUSIVE: Miss. mayor has ‘no problem’ with same-sex marriage
Yazoo City, Diane Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade

Yazoo City, Miss. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

YAZOO CITY, Miss. — Yazoo City Mayor Diane Delaware told the Washington Blade earlier this month she has “no problem” with same-sex marriage.

“Marriage is a legal thing,” she said during an interview in her office inside Yazoo City Hall on July 10. “It is a passionate, deeply rooted thing in our culture and that’s very personal to the individuals and the tribes if you will — and I call us tribes — or communities who see it a certain way. I have no problem with same-sex marriage.”

Delaware did not overtly back the issue during the interview.

“Draw a line and see which side I’m going to stand on,” she told the Blade. “I can’t tell you today because my line has not yet been drawn.”

Neither Delaware nor her staff responded to the Blade’s repeated requests to clarify her comments or position.

Yazoo City, which has a population of slightly more than 11,000 people that is 83 percent black according to the 2010 U.S. Census, is located roughly 45 miles north-northwest of Jackson, the state capital. It is known as the “Gateway to the Delta” region that lies between the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers.

The U.S. Census indicates nearly 49 percent of Yazoo City’s residents were living below the poverty level between 2008-2012.

Delaware, a Democrat, took office in April after she was elected with 87 percent of the vote.

She told the Blade during the interview that she would likely vote in support of marriage rights for gays and lesbians if given the opportunity.

“My heart says I would vote for same-sex marriage,” said Delaware.

Delaware spoke with the Blade less than a week before Waveland Mayor David Garcia became the first Mississippi mayor to join Freedom to Marry’s initiative that highlights mayors who publicly support gay nuptials.

Gays and lesbians are able to legally marry in 19 states and D.C.

Mississippi voters in 2004 by an 86-14 percent margin approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., on Tuesday upheld a lower court’s ruling that struck down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.

More than two dozen other federal and state courts have ruled in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples since the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013 struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday filed an appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that seeks to overturn a federal judge’s ruling earlier this year that found his state’s gay nuptials ban unconstitutional.

Mississippi and Louisiana are also under the 5th Circuit’s jurisdiction.

“The federal government and the people of America are moving towards same-sex marriage every day,” Delaware told the Blade. “It is moving that way at an ever-increasing speed. It used to be slow.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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