Message from Executive Director of MS Hospitality and Restuarant Assoc.

Published on April 14 2016 No Comment

It has been an interesting week since the signing of HB 1523.

For the past 6 days I have personally responded to countless emails and phone calls from people upset by the legislation.

Yes most have come from the LGBT community. But a significant number have come from outside the LGBT community. The reaction and it’s impact is real. It is broad based in nature. The hospitality industry’s is already feeling the affects.

I received a call from a restaurant that lost a large catering contract. Hotels are losing room bookings.
I received an email from a Florida based organization that voted to move a 300 person meeting from Mississippi. Countless families are cancelling very specific vacation plans. One family has detailed plans to visit the Delta blues attractions for two days and settle in Bay St Louis for a few more. Now they are going to New Orleans and Galveston, never setting foot in our state. No Gas purchased. No food consumed. No overnight stay. Nothing.
Please know this isn’t an isolated example. Specific plans were shared. And cancelled.

In time, media coverage will die down but the financial impact may have a long tail.

It is also understood that there are many people that appreciate the protection HB 1523 affords. We also understand a significant number of Mississippians support the bill. We certainly respect those individuals and the legislative process.

However the vast majority of our members have indicated that they did and still do not feel the need for such protections. They are in business to make money and serve their guests….all of their guests.

Those guests taking their business elsewhere demand nothing short of a full repeal, an action that is apparently unlikely.

Facing this impasse and the financial ramifications, our industry can’t sit idly by and do nothing.

To counter the negative publicity and national press, The MHRA has started the EVERYONE’S WELCOME HERE Campaign. It is a simple message that attempts to accentuate our claims of being the Hospitality State. It has picked up traction nationally and we are expanding it to include any business that would like to participate.

The MHRA has printed door decals with the EVERYONE’S WELCOME HERE slogan. As it was originally designed for the restaurant industry, the first run will include our logo. We are sending stickers to businesses in California and Pennsylvania. A rabbi in New Jersey wants one for his synagogue.

We are also creating a web based directory of participating businesses.

If you would like to share this program with businesses in your district, we would be glad to sign them up and send them door decals.

All they will need to do is send an email to info@msra.org and give me their business name and address.

Regardless of your position on the bill, I hope you understand our need to respond in this matter.

Thanks for your support.

Mike Cashion
Executive Director
Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association.