Porterville City Council, left to right, Mayor Virginia Gurrola, Vice Mayor Pete McCracken, Cameron Hamilton, Greg Shelton, Brian Ward.
On Tuesday, June 4, Mayor Virginia Gurrola, acting within the scope of her powers of office, issued a proclamation honoring June 2013 as LGBT Pride Month in Porterville. None of the other council members would sign the proclamation, and each of them expressed their displeasure with it, and with it’s late addition to the council agenda. (although added late, it did meet legal requirements for being on the agenda.)
During the council meeting, after each of the other four council members expressed their disavowal of the proclamation, a large number of people took advantage of the public comments section of the session, and lambasted the Mayor and the LGBT community. Some (most) quoted (Christian) scripture in their tirades, with at least two calling for the death of homosexuals as demanded in the Bible. Others quoted debunked information regarding homosexuality, citing health risks not unique to the LGBT community but blamed on them anyway, flawed research in social sciences, and quotes from virulently anti-gay websites. It was not a pretty sight.
Last Tuesday, Brian Ward introduced items into the consent calendar for the next city council meeting, to be held on June 18th. Two items were added, one calling for a review of the process by which proclamations are issued, and the other to rescind the LGBT Pride Month proclamation and replace it with a resolution naming June 2013 a “A Month of Charity and Goodwill to All in Porterville“. (Brian Ward is the same councilman who, in 2008, introduced a resolution to the council to put Porterville officially on record supporting Proposition 8. Porterville City Council was the only elected body in California to officially vote to support the proposition. Several other current council members were also council members in 2008.)
Here is the text of the proposed resolution:
A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PORTERVILLE, DESIGNATING JUNE 2013 AS A MONTH OF COMMUNITY CHARITY AND GOODWILL TO ALL IN THE CITY OF PORTERVILLE
WHEREAS, Porterville is a community of caring and spiritual people who have created a healthy, safe and secure place for people of all geographic, ethnic, economic, religious, and lifestyle backgrounds to live, work, raise their children and age with dignity;
WHEREAS, hate crimes, bullying and suicide is continuing at alarming rates across the nation;
WHEREAS, fundamentally, charity towards our fellow man is a personal decision that comes from an attitude that is learnable and embraceable – a belief that every person on Earth is a treasure, vital to the health and prosperity of all;
WHEREAS, Porterville is a community promoting charity and goodwill to all in loving our neighbor as ourselves because of our trust in God, while focusing on how we interact with our families, our neighbors and coworkers by respecting them and ourselves;
WHEREAS, the people of Porterville, in keeping with the principle of liberty for all, unequivocally oppose any manifestation of hatred and prejudice towards any group or individual in our community;
NOW, THEREFORE, it is hereby DECLARED and ORDERED, as follows:
The City Council of the City of Porterville does hereby designate the month of
June 2013 as “A Month of Community Charity and Goodwill to All” in Porterville and we resolve to stand together with all people of good faith in our community and declare unequivocally that we have the power to change our attitude, to overcome our ignorance and fears, and to influence our children, our peers and our neighbors to be more charitable. It begins with “each one of us.”
This Resolution shall take effect from and after the date of its passage andadoption by this Council.
PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED this 18th day of June, 2013.
Virginia R. Gurrola, Mayor
John D. Lollis, City Clerk
Patricia Hildreth, Chief Deputy City Clerk
The resolution states: unequivocally oppose any manifestation of hatred and prejudice towards any group or individual in our community, but the council would first rescind the Pride Month proclamation. Apparently Mr. Ward is unable to see the inherent hatred and prejudice each action would create.
The difference between Porterville’s LGBT Pride Month proclamation, and Visalia’s, could not be more stark. On Monday, June 3, 2013, Mayor Amy Shuklian presented the second Pride Month proclamation to the LGBT community of Visalia. At the first proclamation in 2012, no one spoke against it. At this year’s city council meeting, only one person spoke against it, and he was mild in his commentary. It would seem more than mere miles separates Visalia and Porterville. Visalia is moving into the future with pride and dignity towards all it’s citizens, while Porterville huddles in the past clinging to homophobia like a favorite klan hood.
A large turnout is expected at the next city council meeting in Porterville. The June 4th session was standing-room-only, with overflow into the hallway. We expect an even larger turnout on the 18th. If the council carries through with the plan as it exists as of this writing, Porterville will once again be in the spotlight, standing in favor of bigotry, prejudice, and hatred.
For full reporting of the events in their city, check out the GayPorterville.com website.