Home » NEWS » Economic Development » L.A. Grammy director cancels trip with gay son to Mississippi museum

L.A. Grammy director cancels trip with gay son to Mississippi museum

MBJ staff and wire reports

After the opening of a Grammy Museum in the Mississippi Delta, the first  outside Los Angeles, the California museum’s’ director,  Bob Santelli, said he and his 28-year-old gay son have canceled plans to visit the high-tech facility in Cleveland, Mississippi.

The Delta museum opened March 5 and Executive Director Emily Havens said in a recent interview that attendance in the first month exceeded projections.

However, after Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523, which becomes law July 1 and will let government and business workers cite religious beliefs against same-sex marriage to deny services to people.

Santelli said his son said he couldn’t visit Mississippi because he believes the law allows for discrimination.

“He’s my only son and someone who I really wanted to see the Grammy Museum. He won’t come now, and I don’t blame him,” Santelli said.

Santelli joins a list of entertainers and other public figures, businesses, human rights groups and  religious leaders, who have condemned the law. President Barack Obama said he wanted the Mississippi law and a similar one in North Carolina overturned.

Supporters of the law, including Bryant, said it will protect people’s religious beliefs in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

In an April 20 interview, Bryant called the negative response to the bill “overreaction,” adding that “you would think that there would be some discriminatory action taking place here in Mississippi. If that were the fact, I would not have signed the bill.”

Several other states have laws that say people would not have to provide services for same-sex marriages if doing so violates their religious beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (http://bit.ly/1SRAIPQ ).

Santelli said musicians working with the museum had called him to express frustration with the law, though they said they would still help with the museum’s educational programs.

“I have long been an advocate for Mississippi, as a music historian,” he said. “I’ve been to the state many times and been moved by the hospitality I’ve been shown everywhere I traveled. This is step backward for the state, and it saddens me.”

The city of Cleveland, Bolivar County and the state together put up more than $12 million for the museum, with the rest coming from private donors. In March, Cleveland Chamber of Commerce director Judson Thigpen estimated the museum could bring in about $20 million a year as a regional tourist attraction.




… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.

If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.

Click for more info

About Jack Weatherly


  1. This article is misleading. The Mississippi law allows businesses to deny services. Laws in other states allow only clergy and religious associations to deny any marriage (not just same-sex) services to anyone. The Mississippi law is a violation of the First Amendment rights of LGBT Americans not to be discriminated against based on their religion (they are being punished for not complying with someone else’s religion). This would not stand for any group being targeted in this fashion.

  2. So Santelli & Co. have the right to discriminate in who they do business with on the basis of disagreement with their morals, but the rest of us shouldn’t, according to him.

    Well, I’m not coming to see your “museum” because I disagree with your morals. OMG! MS law is working in California too!

    Stay on the left coast with the long-since-meaningless-PC-awards and we will both be happier.

  3. Why is this news? Who actually cares if a gay man from California visits MS or not? You media guys have got to quit stirring the pot and bringing attention to something the majority doesn’t care about. Who cares if he and his father come or not???

  4. Actually, your comment is the one that is misleading. The Mississippi law allows businesses to deny services ONLY as those services relate to the ceremony and/or celebration of a same-sex marriage. In other words, the State of Mississippi cannot prosecute me because I refuse the business of a same-sex couple who want to hold their wedding reception at my restaurant. The State of Mississippi CAN prosecute me if I refuse service to that same gay couple who simply want to come in and have a meal.

    Read the law. It is very clearly limited to situations involving the ceremony and/or celebration of a same-sex marriage. I really wonder if Bob Santelli’s son has read the law. I seriously doubt it.

  5. Well it was the Grammy Museum on the left coast that authorized the Grammy Museum in Mississippi to be built. So in using your logic if they had stayed on the left coast you wouldn’t even have a Grammy Museum in this state.

  6. You idiots saying why does this matter need to do your research on the Grammy Museum and where it was started.

  7. I am sick of Baptists trying to define sin for everyone, trying to tell other Mississippian’s how to live, and establishing their narrow religious views on others through bigoted statutes that only embarrass Mississippi and suppress our economy for all time. It all violates the establishment clause of the Constitution, as well as the 14th Amendment so some self-indulgent people can lord over the rest of us. I’m sick of it.

  8. #HB1523 – The real name of the new law is “PROTECTING FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE FROM GOVERNMENT DISCRIMINATION ACT”. Does the new law discriminate against anyone? It appears that comments are coming from people who have not read it. It’s not long. It’s not complicated. Informed citizens should read the text of laws rather than someone’s opinion. Here is the link — http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2016/html/HB/1500-1599/HB1523SG.htm. Draw your own conclusions, but give yourself the benefits of having read the document.

  9. Fortunately for all of us, sin was defined long before there were any Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Catholics, or any other organized religious groups. In fact, sin was defined and clarified long before the USA became a country. Last check “bigotry” is defined as “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.” Your comments at least imply that an intolerant Rob has a problem with an intolerant Baptist. Consider the parabolic principles of the “The Mote and the Beam” (Matthew 7:5; Luke 6:42). If you have no religious convictions, the principles may be relavant.

  10. I am one of those bigoted Baptist. I am sick of Homosexuals trying to force their deviant, perverted lifestyle on me. The Constitution was never intended to prevent religion, on the contrary it grants freedom of religion.
    As to whether some Homosexual comes to Mississippi or not, I would say stay in California.
    I believe most Mississippians like our rural religious economy. We will never be California but who wants to be? There is much opportunity here. All others are free to leave.

  11. At least you admit you are bigoted. That’s a first step!

  12. Whoa….if ANYTHING violates the Establishment Clause, it is any form of government telling the people what is and is not “sin.” That is the very definition of the government establishing religion.

    And Rob, try to wrap your mind around this: the Judeo/Christian definition of homosexuality as “sin” has been around for 4000 years or so. Yet “new” thinking that says homosexuality is “normal” behavior has only been around for 15 or 20 years. So if you say that Christians are bigots, do you realize how many people you are accusing of being a bigot over the past 4000 years? Maybe the Christians are NOT the bigots, but instead, the true bigots are the ones who attack well-established religious doctrine.

  13. Mississippi is not California. That is an absolute truth. One major difference is that Mississippi is yet again the largest drain on the Federal economy per capita of all 50 states. It actually costs the United States to keep Mississippi as a state. Mississippi doesn’t contribute to the national economy at all. Mississippi is annually last or next to last in education, economic growth, and healthcare services. Do yourself some research to understand why Mississippi’s poor don’t have access to state funded/federally funded health services. The answer may surprise you. Mississippi is up near the top in a few categories though. The first that comes to mind unfortunately is rampant morbid obesity.

    That aside, the United States Constitution guarantees religious freedom AND separation of church and state in the first amendment (thank you Mr. Jefferson). I make that point because you seem to be concerned about someone forcing their homosexual lifestyle on you (note that you aren’t really being forced to do anything but it just annoys you that other people aren’t living their lives the way you do). I personally get irritated with the Baptists ringing my doorbell to talk about being saved or shoving pamphlets in my screen door when I don’t answer or constantly being asked repeatedly to attend church when I’ve clearly and politely declined repeatedly.

    The issue with 1523 is the definition of ‘religious organization’. No church should have to perform a wedding for two gay people who wish to get married. 1523 protects ‘religious organizations’ from being sued for denying that service. However, when you start getting into the issue of commerce, it gets a lot murkier and we will start to see situations where state and local businesses can declare themselves ‘Christian Corporations’ or similar terminology to deny services having nothing to do with homosexuality or religion. Is it against your religion to break bread with homosexuals? If so, there is your basis for denying them a meal at a ‘Christian-owned’ restaurant.

    There are already legal precedents for that kind of discrimination. It will come.

    As far as Christianity is concerned, I know a lot of very nice Christians who represent their religion with compassion and grace. Although not a Christian myself, it saddens me to see someone use the Bible as a battering ram to abuse humanity. Also, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but homosexuals don’t ‘come to Mississippi’. Many are born there, raised there, and die there. They aren’t imported.

  14. And that would be just fine! The Grammys aren’t indicative of quality or accomplishment these days, and haven’t been for generations. They’re just given out for popularity amongst the left-wing purple pants and ochre shirt PC crowd. I’m pretty surprised Hillary and BHO haven’t received theirs yet.

  15. Spoken like a true Dylan Roof compadre!

  16. Joe-spoken like a true so-called godly conservative who takes bits and pieces from the bible fore their own benefit. Lastly, the federal guvment gives money to Mississippi because it needs it to survive because we really don’t produce anything outside of agriculture.

Leave a Reply