Ridgeland, Mississippi Mayor Gene McGee is withholding $110,000 from the Madison County Library System unless It removes LGBTQ books from its shelves, The Mississippi Free Press reports.
Tonja Johnson, executive director for the Madison County Library System, told the outlet that she reached out to McGee after failing to receive the city’s quarterly payment. She said McGee told her that he would not be paying.
“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,” Johnson said.
“I explained that we are a public library and we serve the entire community. I told him our collection reflects the diversity of our community,” she added.
But the mayor was unmoved.
“He told me that the library can serve whoever we wanted, but that he only serves the great Lord above,” Johnson said.
McGee acknowledged on Wednesday that he is withholding the funds.
McGee did not attend a library board meeting Tuesday at the Ridgeland Library, which unanimously voted to bring the issue to the board of alderman before seeking potential legal remedies.
The library board’s counsel, Bob Sanders, said McGee did not have any authority to undo the library’s contract with the city.
McGee targets LGBTQ books:
Johnson told the Free Press that McGee’s demands mostly related to LGBTQ-related books, or what he called “homosexual materials.”
Johnson explained that library patrons already have access to a system that allows them to flag books that may not be suitable.
“I think that’s probably where the mayor’s objections are coming from. Perhaps they reached out to him instead of back out to the library,” Johnson said.
“We’re holding (the money) right now because we found a large number of citizens who have complained about displays of sexual, whatever you want to call it, content. We’re just responding to those citizens’ complaints, and that’s the position we’re in,” McGee told the Free Press.