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“Everyone’s Welcome Here”: Hospitality Group Responds to Controversial Mississippi Law

The Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, moving quickly to respond to a new state law that allows businesses to deny service based on religious beliefs, has launched a campaign to help members show their commitment to providing equal service to LGBT customers.

The Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association wants residents and visitors to know that the Hospitality State’s hotels and restaurants are open to all.

We have a very clear and strong message to convey. Mississippi’s restaurant industry is open for everyone’s business.

After Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed legislation last week allowing businesses to deny service to gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and those in same-sex marriages based on religious beliefs, MHRA moved quickly to mobilize members to send the message that they will serve all customers.

“Our industry serves a diverse customer base, and we want to make sure all customers are appreciated and welcomed,” MHRA Executive Director Mike Cashion said in a news release [PDF].

“Regardless of its intent, this legislation has created a level of controversy and public perception that affects the image of our state and the hospitality community,” he added.

MHRA’s “Everyone’s Welcome Here” campaign is a voluntary effort that will help member organizations make a statement about their commitment to inclusive business practices. The group will provide restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality space with door decals that deliver the message “Everyone’s Welcome Here.” Participating businesses will be included in an online directory. The association and members will also publicize the campaign on social networks.

“While we may not be able to manage the image and brand of the entire state, we can affect the image of our restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality businesses,” Cashion said. “When our industry is challenged, we, as an organization, will take prudent steps to protect and promote the restaurant and hospitality industry.”

“We have a very clear and strong message to convey. Mississippi’s restaurant industry is open for everyone’s business,” he added.

The new law, officially titled the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, goes into effect July 1.

(iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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