AWARD: First Time In Nation’s History
Much of that work was centered around the efforts of the Tulare County Suicide Task Force and its partner, Trevor Project. There were efforts to prevent suicide in LGBT youth and adults, and more widely, the entire population of the County. There was also a lot of work with anti-bullying efforts in the same communities.Between 2009 and 2013, there were 4 years of a general truce between the LGBT community and Council. We watched them closely, and they didn’t take actions, they probably wanted to take. The local LGBT community built a solid record of civic involvement and volunteering.
In early June, new Mayor Virginia Gurrola was asked to present Porterville’s first-ever LGBT Pride Month Proclamation. The Proclamation honored the volunteer works of the LGBT community to save lives in the face of so much rejection. She readily agreed to issue the Proclamation, as was her prerogative, and as had been the Mayor’s sole prerogative since at least 1926 in Porterville.
Objections were raised immediately by the other 4 Councilmembers: Pete McCracken, Brian Ward, Cameron Hamilton, and Greg Shelton. Each broke with established protocol by failing to sign the official document presented to 5 volunteers. Each also broke with protocol by failing to shake the hands of the 5 recipients as they received their certificate.
An impromptu public hearing was held, and the expressions of rage from the Porterville anti-LGBT community left Mayor Gurrola in tears. She heard from angry religious zealots of many stripes, including a local Westboro Baptist Church affiliate (“God Hates Fags”) who wished death upon her, and a local Nazi apologist. The common theme was that Bible and government are one and the same, and LGBT people are an “abomination”.
Two more nearly identical hearings were held between June 4 and July 17. By the last one, people were literally waving Bibles around madly in support of the efforts by Brian Ward to rescind the Proclamation.
Normally any politician in America would run from fulfilling the request of the Westboro Baptist Church and racists and homophobes, but the religious justification carried the day and Council voted by the same 3-2 bloc at every procedural vote and the final vote to rescind the Proclamation.
Resolution Author: Brian Ward
Mayor: Virginal Gurrola
Vote: 3-2 to rescind. In Favor: Brian Ward, Cameron Hamilton, Greg Shelton. Against: Virginia Gurrola, Pete McCracken.
Bonus Tidbit #1: No other Pride Proclamation US History has ever been rescinded.
Bonus Tidbit #2: Even though Pride Month was already over, it was ruled null and void retroactively, the City literally taking the feeling of Pride away from its own citizens.
Bonus Tidbit #3: As the final vote was recorded, PEFA allies engaged in an act of civil disobedience asserting LGBT rights, resulting in three arrests.
Learn About the Most Shameful Anti-LGBT Events in Porterville City Council History
INSTRUCTIONS: Click on the Black Ribbon Award to learn the details