On Tuesday, October 15, 2019, the City Council of Porterville, California, enacted a historic milestone for that community.
By a three to two vote, they approved a proclamation recognizing October 11, 2019, as “National Coming Out Day 2019” in Porterville.
Check out Tulare County Stonewall Democrat’s page, here, for a copy of the proclamation and some details on the students and activists that made it possible.
Brought before the council after the National Coming Out Day of October 11 due to a scheduling snafu, the council spent fifteen minutes discussing the proclamation. You can hear the recording of the conversation here. The proclamation agenda item begins at about the 2 hour, 55 minute mark into the recording.
Council member Milt Stowe said while he “loved” and “respected” and didn’t intend to demean anyone, his religion would not let him vote in favor, even though he has a gay son.
Mayor Martha Flores also voted ‘no’, after making comments including “I have “it” in my family”, a statement that didn’t go over well with the audience, although they maintained a respectful silence while the mayor spoke.
Vice Mayor Monte Reyes spoke on representing the entire community and voted yes.
Council member Virginia Gurrola spoke on the importance of the vote to the community and young people, and voted in favor.
Council member Daniel Peñaloza sponsored the proclamation (a requirement for proclamations now, after the 2013 fiasco. Details here, here, and here.) and voted yes.
On May 21, 2019, the Council also approved a proclamation recognizing May 22 as Harvey Milk Day in Porterville. This was the first gay-friendly act by the Council since the 2008 vote to urge citizens to vote in favor of Proposition 8, to remove marriage rights from gay Californians.
The city has come a long way since 2013, due in no small part to new blood on the council. For a look at what happened that summer, read my blog post, “Hate in a small town.” That blog was printed in the Visalia Times Delta‘s September 21-22, 2013 edition, in their “We The People” section.
Congratulations, Porterville. The LGBT community of Tulare County looks forward to continued growth in your support and understanding.
Image: Mayor Martha Flores, Sky Hunter, Ofiejane Castillo, Rocio Alcantar, and Brock Neeley