Sunday, April 4, 2010

Update: Constance McMillen had a "Prom"

Perhaps the subtitle of this post should ask how a Federal judge feels about being misled, or how they would feel about making a mistaken ruling, or whether a missed deadline excuse is contempt of court?

Early internet reports about the parent-sponsored prom for Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi claimed that Constance McMillen, the lesbian student who wanted to attend with her girlfriend wasn't invited. But in issuing his ruling confirming that her rights had been violated, Judge Glen H. Davidson said that he wouldn't order the school to hold a prom because the parents had done so much work in organizing an alternative and Miss McMillen had been told that she would be welcome.

Unfortunately, Constance supposedly missed the deadline for purchasing a ticket to the substitute prom, so whomever was selling the tickets took her phone number and in what sounds like a fit of panic over getting sued, the parents cancelled their prom and hurriedly issued refunds from the parking lot of a local church.

Then, a second make-up prom was scheduled for the local country club and according to media reports and comments from local residents, Miss McMillen spent less than an hour at the event without a date. Her publicity-shy girlfriend had never intended to go to the original make-up prom and at one time, it was believed that Miss McMillen would be attending with another girl, but if 'net comments are to be believed, it doesn't sound like the back-up date showed.

As I said, the initial internet reports were that Constance wasn't invited to the first alternative prom, but for some reason, the judge was under the impression that she would be welcome, which is why he didn't order the school to hold one of their own. After the parent-sponsored prom was originally cancelled, post-McMillen trying to buy a ticket, multiple unnamed parents told the Tupelo Journal that their prom was to have the same rules as those used by the school anyway, which meant no same-sex couples would be allowed.

Thankfully, the hastily-arranged, second alternative prom didn't plan to follow the school's rules and Constance was allowed to attend, but by that time, one must assume that the whole thing had become a letdown for all involved and because the judge didn't force her rights to be protected, poor Constance's victory seems sort of hollow.

Though, next time, the schools should know better than to ban same-sex or mixed-race couples and hopefully Judge Davidson has learned that empty promises from an ad-hoc group does not trump a court order, especially when it's passed down to a legal, governmental body.

ETA: A Mississippi blog alleges the country club prom was a decoy.
Confirmed: Local media has reported the dual prom story
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