Pride Month Proclamation Rescinded in Porterville

Photo: Chieko HaraPhoto: Chieko Hara

The small town of Porterville, California crossed onto the wrong side of history on July 16, 2013 when they rescinded a proclamation to name June Gay Pride month and adopt the good will resolution saying it is more inclusive for everyone.

Proclamations are usually handled by having the mayor use their discretion to sign or not sign them and then the city council will also sign it. In the case of this proclamation, they refused to sign due to their personal and religious beliefs about homosexuality.  Mayor Virginia Gurrola signed the proclamation despite the city council’s refusal and felt it would be good for everyone.

The town gathered to voice their opinions at the June 18 city council meeting and many conservative and religious attendees came with their bibles in hand to protest what they viewed as an unfair favoring of “the gay agenda.” Some protesters wanted the proclamation rescinded, and justified their obvious homophobia with their religious beliefs. One such person went as far as to say that this proclamation would “be calling God a liar.”

Protesters against rescinding the proclamation – including Robin McGehee of LGBT direct action group GetEqual – and other LGBT activists were removed from the assembly by police and charged with disturbing the peace.

Council member Brian Ward asked “Why does the LBGT community get special consideration? Why can’t it apply to everyone?” and he suggested they adopt a resolution, which is a much more legal statement than a proclamation, to have the month be “Good Will for All” instead of Gay Pride, he said, in order to be more inclusive.

This is not the first time Porterville has been opposed to the gay community and equal rights for all. Back in 2008 all five members of the Porterville City Council voted to pass a resolution to support Prop 8. Porterville was the only city government in the state of California to support Proposition 8, (the discriminatory ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage), and they have supported other such discriminatory actions towards the LGBTQ community.

Ward has a notorious history of being against equality and it is not surprising that he is the one who suggested the 2013 Gay Pride Proclamation be rescinded.

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