JACKSON, Miss., Sept 8 (Reuters) - The Mississippi city of Starkville will become the first in the right-leaning state to extend benefits to same-sex partners of its employees, according to local media reports.
Starkville, a city of 24,000 residents that is home to Mississippi State University, in January became the first Mississippi city to adopt a resolution affirming the value of all citizens, in response to a state religious freedom bill - now a law - that critics say legalizes discrimination against gays and others.
The benefits extended to same-sex spouses of Starkville city workers, announced on Friday, include health insurance, the Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based gay rights group, as saying.
Mississippi is among 31 U.S. states that bans gay marriage.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman, a supporter of the new benefits rule, and representatives from the Human Rights Campaign did not immediately return messages seeking comment. (Reporting by Emily Le Coz; Writing by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Sandra Maler)