Portland Mayor Charlie Hales has refused to travel to Mississippi next month for the commissioning of the United States Navy’s new vessel, the USS Portland. The commissioning, therefore, will be held in Oregon, much to the delight of many Portlanders.
Mayor Hales refuses to travel to Mississippi because of his opposition to that state’s anti-LGBT laws, which permit businesses, churches, and religious charities to discriminate and deny services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
Hales made himself very clear about his refusal. He will not allow a ship in his city’s name to be commissioned in a state that permits such blatant discrimination against the LGBT community. He stated:
‘These kinds of laws are wrong, they’re fundamentally wrong. They’re probably unconstitutional, but until they’re overturned in the courts or repealed by the legislature that wakes up the next day and says that was really a bad idea, we are not going to go there, literally.’
The US Navy will now reschedule the commissioning in light of Hales’ refusal. Instead of holding it as they originally scheduled in Pascagoula, Mississippi next month, the Navy will commission the ship in Portland, Oregon sometime in late 2017. Makes sense, considering the ship literally has the name of the city attached to it.
Footage of the future USS Portland during its launch in Pascagoula can be viewed in the video below. The launch took place in February this year at the Huntington Ingalls Industry shipyard.
The ship has been described as a “San Antonio-class amphibious transport vessel.” Portlanders have campaigned to get the Navy to commission the vessel in its namesake city for months now, but it was Mayor Hales’s objection to Mississippi’s anti-LGBT laws that finally got the ship moved to Oregon.
Mike Hewlett, one of the campaigners, had this to say in 2015 about giving the ship its namesake with the city of Portland:
‘This is a richly deserved honor for a city with significant maritime heritage, not only as a major port city but one with a history of naval shipbuilding activity during World War I and World War II and even now, with thriving shipyards and several barge and tug-building activities.’
Portland clearly sounds as good a place as any to commission the ship. It only makes it better that it finally got there after the city government made a stand against intolerance as well.
Featured image via Youtube.