Doing God’s Work in Porterville 6/19/13

Standing-room-only at Porterville City Council meeting, June 18, 2013 Photo by Headshot

Oh, not me.  Apparently I was there to corrupt the youth of Porterville, and drag the entire culture of the United States down into the pits of hell.  Or something like that.

Due to either a snafu or just plain not paying attention to detail where it matters, Tuesday night’s City Council meeting in Porterville spent a lot of time talking, and not much on dealing with the proclamation and it’s resulting brouhaha.  I might point out that that was NOT due to the number of people speaking during the Public Comment portions of the meeting on the expected actions to change the proclamation process, rescind the Mayor’s LGBT Pride Month proclamation, and to pass a resolution naming June 2013 as “A Month of Community Charity and Goodwill to All in Porterville”.  The Council was precluded from taking those votes because of the Brown Act.

At the last meeting, items were placed on the agenda for the 18th for the Council to place on the following meeting’s agenda discussion to consider changing the procedures for proclamations, rescinding the “Gay Pride Proclamation” (interesting aside, the agenda speaks of the “Gay Pride Proclamation”, but there is no such beast.  It’s the “LGBT Pride Month Proclamation”.  If the agenda is not corrected, they will be considering rescinding something never issued!) (Don’t tell them I told you that!), and issuing the Charity and Goodwill resolution (which is different from a proclamation).

I hope you were able to follow that.  I think it caught more than a few off guard.

Some on the Council seemed disappointed that they could not act on the items then and there.  An attempt was made to “change the rules” to allow them to take action Tuesday, but a lady whom I assume to be the City Attorney quickly quashed that, reminding them of the Brown Act requirements regarding publishing of agendas, and what the wording on Tuesday’s agenda required of them.  This should not have come as a surprise to anyone, as the agenda clearly stated what was in store.  I was pretty sure I understood it when I first saw it, and was wondering how things were going to work themselves out at the meeting.  I didn’t think it would take until 11pm to do so, however.  The wheels of government turn slowly.

On to God’s work.  The Council set up the public commentary section a bit differently than usual. At first planned for 30 minutes, the Council decided to extend the time to 60 minutes, with the first 30 allotted to those who wanted to speak in favor of rescinding the proclamation, and the second 30 to those who would speak against.

This week’s first speakers, who we might describe as “God’s people”, were much less hostile and damning towards the gay community than those who spoke on June 4.  Still, speaking from ignorance about the “gay lifestyle”, and often repeating the common anti-gay mantra “but we don’t hate you, we love you!”, many stood up and reminded the Council of “God’s will”.  We didn’t hear a lot of the usual falsehoods about the number of sexual partners, disease, or homosexuality causing suicide, but we did hear the tired old “slippery slope” lines again.  As can always be expected, “God’s people” reminded the Council that the LGBT Pride Month proclamation opened the door to NAMBLA, pedophilia, and bestiality pride months.  One lady listed off a litany of “Pride Month” proclamations she wanted, starting out with “Heterosexual Pride Month”, and continuing into parody about others, but one caught my ear.  She wanted a “Heterosexual Christian Pride Month”.  uhhh…. Christmas came immediately to my mind.  But they don’t hate the gays.  Why, some of their best friends are gay!

The second group, several of whom were also of “God’s people”, spoke against rescinding the proclamation.  A much larger group than the first spoke to the council, telling them of their struggles, their fears, their hopes, and how much the LGBT Pride Month Proclamation had meant to them.  They urged the Council not to rescind the proclamation.  We can only hope they listened with open hearts.

Some in the Christian community seem genuinely confused about being called homophobes, bigots, and haters.  Many adamantly denied any such motivations or feelings.  Indeed, several of them attempted to cast themselves as the victims of hate and intolerance.  I find it quite amazing that they in one breath deny hate and bigotry, and in the next charge that they are the true victims.  They disavow ardent Christian bigots like the man who holds up signs of similar design to those of the Westboro Baptist Church, claiming he and those like him aren’t “real Christians”.  While many of them don’t support him (at least outwardly) or his words, they don’t get a pass on being lumped in with the crazies of their side.  Why?  Because they insist on dumping all the crazies on OUR side into our laps.  (yes, we have some.  Not as many as you might think, or as some claim)  You can’t disavow some you don’t like, but then insist on labeling the LGBT community as sexual perverts determined to “recruit” children or to molest them.

Standing up for our rights in city council chambers, in voting booths, at rallies, in churches, in public forums, in letters to the editor, and on blogs does not constitute hatred directed at every Christian on the planet.  Not even towards most of them.  Defending our community from both deliberate lies and honestly uninformed opinions is not hatred.  Unfortunately, most actions directed towards the LGBT community in the United States, whether directly through hostile words or actions, or indirectly through the passage of resolutions and laws, is generated by people professing Christian faith.  Some who profess to be Christians demand as their inalienable right tolerance of their intolerance.  When they get push-back for their words and acts, they don’t get to claim we’re the intolerant ones.

I spoke to the Council at the second open comments segment of the meeting.  In those remarks, I said I had no disagreement with them considering changes to the manner in which the city issues proclamations.  That is certainly their prerogative.  I also told them that the proposed resolution of “Charity and Goodwill” was acceptable, if rather bland.  Rescinding the LGBT Pride Month proclamation, however, was a cruel and needless thing to do.  I asked that they not rescind, regardless of what else they might decide.

The Council will now have a month to consider things.  Let’s hope they use that time to reflect on the words they heard spoken these past two weeks, and to use it to find ways to represent the entire community of Porterville.

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