By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press
JACKSON — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said Friday it was “petty” for North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue to insult Mississippi while bemoaning that voters in her state approved a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage.
Bryant, a Republican who became governor in January, said he intends to write to Perdue about her comments. She is a Democrat who isn’t seeking a second term.
Perdue was in Greenville, N.C., on Friday when she responded to questions from WITN-TV in Washington. She said she was disappointed voters in her state on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.
“People around the country are watching us and they’re really confused, to have been such a progressive, forward-thinking, economically driven state that invested in education and that stood up for the civil rights of people, including the civil rights marches back in the ’50’s and ’60’s and ’70’s,” Perdue said. “Folks are saying what in the world is going on in North Carolina. We look like Mississippi.”
In Jackson, Miss., Bryant said Perdue’s comments were “very disappointing.”
“To be able to use Mississippi in a disparaging way on a popular vote in her own state is, I think, something that’s certainly petty and something I think she will reflect on and hopefully apologize for those types of remarks,” Bryant told reporters after an unrelated news conference in Jackson.
Messages left with spokespeople for Perdue were not immediately returned Friday.
In the November 2004 general election, 86 percent of Mississippi voters approved an amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Bryant said he has met Perdue at National Governors Association meetings.
“She’s a very nice lady,” Bryant said. “It’s just disappointing to be able to use Mississippi as she is in some way to disparage a popular vote in her own state. It’s just very, very disappointing. And I think she’ll regret that after she’s had some time to reflect on it.”
Bryant said in a written statement: “Apparently, North Carolina’s voters are much more in line with Mississippi’s traditional values on marriage than those of Gov. Perdue.”
Mississippi’s Republican lieutenant governor, Tate Reeves, and the head of the Mississippi Republican Party, Joe Nosef, both issued statements criticizing Perdue’s comments.
“Thirty-two states have voted on the issue of defining marriage. Thirty-two states have voted in favor of traditional marriage,” Nosef said. “Gov. Perdue is obviously out of touch with the voters of her own state and is trying to change the subject by attacking Mississippi. We are proud to stand with North Carolina and the majority of other states in our country who have supported traditional marriage.”
Reeves did not mention same-sex marriage but said Mississippi has a better business climate than North Carolina.
“I would invite any North Carolina-based company wanting to move to a lower-taxed, less-regulated state to look at our business-friendly opportunities,” Reeves said.
Associated Press writer Gary Robertson in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.