Robin Roberts responds to controversy over Mississippi tour guide cover photo

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"Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts is finally responding to her controversial appearance on the cover of an official tourism guide for the state of Mississippi, which recently signed an anti-LGBT bill into law.

Roberts, who is openly gay, says she and her partner have always felt comfortable in her home state, "and it hurts my soul to think of anyone not feeling welcome."

In her statement, Roberts says she's still proud of her Mississippian roots.

"It's always been a deeply held belief of mine that everyone, everywhere should be treated equally," Roberts said. "I'm proud that my beloved mother and father taught me as a child growing up in Mississippi to focus on the many things we all have in common, not our few differences. And what we all deserve to have in common is the right to be treated equally."

robert_mississippix750x563Mississippi's 2016 official tour guide, featuring a smiling Roberts on the cover, came out before the governor signed the anti-gay discrimination law, which allows businesses, individuals and "religiously affiliated organizations" to refuse service to LGBT citizens.

"Roberts advises first-time visitors to enter Mississippi with an open mind," the tourism guide article says, "ready to experience that great food, perfect weather and what she calls 'true Southern hospitality.'"

Roberts was slow to issue her statement, which prompted an article by The Advocate titled, "Lesbian Journalist Robin Roberts Is Mississippi Tourism's Cover Girl."

The state's tourism industry even got the full "Funny or Die" treatment in the form of a mock ad encouraging tourists to travel to the state where "We have an oppressive law to match our oppressive heat." The video directed users to the state's official tourism website, where Roberts's face is prominently featured.

Here's her personal statement, as released by ABC Friday afternoon:

My father, Colonel Lawrence Roberts, was assigned to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi in 1969. During his military career we lived in many states and countries. When Dad retired from the Air Force in 1975, we chose to stay in Mississippi. We fell in love with the Magnolia State for many reasons.

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Robin Roberts responds to controversy over Mississippi tour guide cover photo
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28: Robin Roberts arrives at her book signing for 'Everybody's Got Something' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on April 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/FilmMagic)
Robin Roberts appears on Good Morning America in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Robin Roberts at Good Morning America in New York City on April 18, 2014. Credit: RW/MediaPunch
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Robin Roberts at Good Morning America in New York City on April 18, 2014. Credit: RW/MediaPunch
Television journalist Robin Roberts attends the SeriousFun Children's Network Benefit Gala on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 9: Robin Roberts seen at ABC's Good Morning America in New York City on July 9, 2014. Credit: RW/MediaPunch/IPX
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16: TV personality Robin Roberts attends the 2014 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 25: News anchor Robin Roberts (R) and partner Amber Laign are seen outside 'Da Silvana Restaurant'on July 25, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: Television personalities Robin Roberts and Patti Labelle are seen tape a segment at 'Good Morning America' at the ABC Times Square Studios on July 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: Television personalities Robin Roberts is seen tape a segment at 'Good Morning America' at the ABC Times Square Studios on July 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 07: Television personalities Robin Roberts is seen tape a segment at 'Good Morning America' at the ABC Times Square Studios on July 7, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 04: Television personality Robin Roberts onstage at the 2014 Essence Music Festival on July 4, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: Television personalities Robin Roberts is seen tape a segment at 'Good Morning America' at the ABC Times Square Studioson July 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 11: Robin Roberts (L) interviews Keith Urban on ABC's 'Good Morning America' at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Robin Roberts attends the The Paley Center for Media 2014 Spring Benefit Dinner at 583 Park Avenue on May 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29: (L to R) Television personalities Amy Robach, Robin Roberts, and George Stephanopoulos tape a segment at 'Good Morning America' at the ABC Times Square Studios on May 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
This image released by ABC shows co-host Robin Roberts gesturing on the set as she returns for a trial run at "Good Morning America," Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in New York. In June, she disclosed that she had MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease. Her last day on "GMA" was Aug. 30 before she began extended medical leave from the ABC morning show. Roberts underwent a bone marrow transplant in September. (AP Photo/ABC, Ida Mae Astute)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Former ESPN anchor Robin Roberts speaks on stage at the Paley Prize Gala honoring ESPN's 35th anniversary presented by Roc Nation Sports on May 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Paley Center for Media)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 19: TV anchor Robin Roberts attends 11th Annual GLSEN Respect awards at Gotham Hall on May 19, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 21: Television personality Robin Roberts leaves the 'Good Morning America' taping at the ABC Times Square Studios on May 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Former ESPN anchor Robin Roberts speaks on stage at the Paley Prize Gala honoring ESPN's 35th anniversary presented by Roc Nation Sports on May 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Paley Center for Media)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: Robin Roberts speaks Forbes Women's Summit:The Entrepreneurship of Everything at 583 Park Avenue on May 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rommel Demano/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: TV Personality Robin Roberts attends A Celebration of Barbara Walters Cocktail Reception Red Carpet at the Four Seasons Restaurant on May 14, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
20/20 - 'Robin's Journey,' A Special Edition of 20/20, takes viewers on a candid, inspiring and intimate journey inside Robin Roberts’ challenging fight against myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disorder. The hour, which includes private moments beginning with the pre-transplant treatment, through her time in the hospital, to her return to GMA, airs FRIDAY, FEB. 22 (10-11 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) ROBIN ROBERTS
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Robin Roberts attends: An Evening With Robin Roberts And George Stephanopoulis at 92nd Street Y on May 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Nomi Ellenson/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28: Television personality Robin Roberts signs copies of her new book, 'Everybody's Got Something' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on April 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
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Last year well before recent events, I was interviewed and photographed to be on the cover of Mississippi's official state tourism publication. I've often boasted about the beautiful people, delicious food and my picturesque hometown of Pass Christian.

My longtime partner, Amber, and I have always felt welcomed in my home state, and it hurts my soul to think of anyone not feeling welcome.

It's always been a deeply held belief of mine that everyone, everywhere should be treated equally. I'm proud that my beloved mother and father taught me as a child growing up in Mississippi to focus on the many things we all have in common, not our few differences. And what we all deserve to have in common is the right to be treated equally.

Read original story Robin Roberts Responds to Controversy Over Mississippi Tour Guide Cover Photo At TheWrap


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