Originally published on Advocate.com August 08 2003 12:00 AM ET
Shortly after the city council in Gulfport, Miss., passed a resolution condemning the U.S. Supreme Court for striking down sodomy laws, the state's gay rights group announced a boycott against the city. Now the "Not One Dime!" campaign, launched by Equality Mississippi, is going after the cruise ship industry to encourage it to not make use of Gulfport docking facilities.
"The cruise lines are well known for hosting numerous gay cruises, and we definitely know them to be gay- and lesbian-friendly," said Jody Renaldo, Equality Mississippi's executive director. "We are going to make sure that the cruise lines are well aware that the city in which they are looking at bringing their ships and business...discriminates against its gay and lesbian passengers. Councilman Billy Hewes said of our annual equal rights conference that he didn't want 800 to 1,200 queers in Gulfport. I wonder if he could imagine a cruise ship full of queers coming into Gulfport. Until the city makes amends on this resolution they passed or until Billy Hewes is no longer associated with the city of Gulfport, they won't have to worry about queers coming to Gulfport, and they won't have to worry about counting our gay dollars."
Equality Mississippi has opened a special section on its Web site dedicated to the boycott, including contact information for the major cruise lines so that people can contact the cruise lines themselves to encourage them to dock elsewhere. Carnival Cruise Line's newest and largest cruise ship, the Conquest, made use of Gulfport Harbor for several weeks because of low-hanging power lines that prevented it from getting to its home port in New Orleans. Sources say the ship could make Gulfport its permanent location. Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Holland America Line, and Carnival Corp. all visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast last year for a daylong tour of the port, tourist attractions, and casinos. Since the tour the lines have continued to talk to a Mississippi Gulf Coast cruise ship task force. Port officials hope to convince cruise ship executives to dock their ships in Gulfport.