Once again the LGBTQ community of Porterville is feeling the pain of a snub from the City Council. After last year’s fiasco over a LGBT Pride Month proclamation and subsequent rescission, which then led to both the Mayor and Vice-Mayor losing those ceremonial positions, and a change in the process of presenting proclamations, the City Council is again deliberately ignoring the gay community and their allies.
Activists in Porterville are reporting that a request for a proclamation recognizingNational Coming Out Day, October 11, has died for lack of support from any of the council members. (New rules for proclamations require a council member to sponsor the request, rather than the former method, where community members simply filled out a form, and the Mayor issued it, if it met the minimal requirements.) It initially appeared, according to Elliot Trueblood of Gay Porterville, that Council member Monte Reyes would sponsor the request, but that support has been withdrawn. Council member Virginia Gurrola, the former mayor who was removed from that ceremonial office for her issuance of the June 2013 LGBT Pride Month proclamation, has also declined to step up and sponsor the request. (Gurrola is running for Tulare County Board of Supervisors in District 5, the seat currently held by Mike Ennis. One assumes she will not risk alienating the conservative district with another gay-related action. The LGBT community of the region is understandably disappointed and upset with Gurrola over this political stance.)
Even with two new members, the Porterville City Council still cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Politics are still placed above respect and inclusion, and the LGBTQ community in that city, and their allies, must still deal with deeply ingrained homophobia and lingering animosity.
Porterville has a long anti-gay history. From being the only city council in California to officially vote to support 2008′s Proposition 8 (removing the existing right of marriage for same-gender couples), to votes urging defeat of gay rights bills in the California legislature, to 2013′s Pride Month proclamation and resulting fiasco, and now refusing to recognize National Coming Out Day, even new blood on the Council is not enough for it to do the right thing.