Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced Rob Hill as state director of HRC Mississippi.

In the press conference, held at the Mississippi State Capitol, the Washington, D.C.-based civil rights organization said Hill, a past Fondren Renaissance board member, will lead their Project One America effort to bring equality to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Hill is a former United Methodist Minister from Forest, Miss., who most recently served the congregation at Broadmeadow United Methodist Church in Fondren. During his nine year tenure, Hill helped to grow a declining congregation that now boasts a diverse membership.

“It’s my pleasure to accept the challenge of leading HRC Mississippi,” Hill said. “Though we disagree on various issues, our values in the Magnolia State teach us to love everyone, even our friends and family members who are LGBT. It’s those same beliefs that will guide me in this next adventure. ”

Like many in Mississippi, Hill said he grew up with the golden rule to do unto others as you would have done unto you. “I didn’t just grow up with that, I preached that,” he affirmed. “And though I love Mississippi with all my heart and soul, living as a gay man here can be tough.”

HRC today released the results of the largest survey of its kind to date on the needs, experiences, and priorities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Mississippians. The survey’s results show that LGBT Mississippians are just like their friends and family members–living, working, volunteering, and going to church within their communities. However, the assessment also finds that LGBT people face daunting amounts of harassment and discrimination and enjoy no legal protections at either the local or state level.

“For LGBT Mississippians, so many have experienced harassment at school, at work and sadly, even worse, at church,” Hill explained. “That’s not right. That’s not the Mississippi I know and love.”

Hill went on to say that LGBT Mississippians and their rights are paramount to his work here.  “At HRC, we will work hard to make sure everyone has a chance to live comfortably in their communities. To do that, we’re going to change hearts and minds. Mississippi is a great place to live and everyone, regardless of whom they love, deserves to enjoy the place they call home. Because this is our home.”

Brad Clark, national director of Project One America for HRC, said the movement for equality for LGBT has made remarkable leaps forward in Mississippi, but that progress has been isolated to the coast and a few dots in the middle. “You are just as likely to grow up gay or lesbian in Mississippi as you are in New York or California,” Clark said. “We cannot allow the rising tide of equality to leave anyone behind. True equality is for everyone, everywhere.”