Statement big turnaround from 2008


Porterville Mayor Virginia Gurrola is expected to issue a proclamation tonight recognizing the month of June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month.

The proclamation will be a huge turnaround for the council which in 2008 supported Proposition 8, the initiative outlawing same sex marriage in the Golden State. Three members of the 2008 city council still retain their seats. That measure, which got nearly 75 percent voter approval in Tulare County, passed statewide and is now being challenged in the nation’s highest court. A Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the measure is expected any day now.

The request for the proclamation was submitted by Brock Neeley on Wednesday, according to Neeley, and given to the mayor.

“Last Wednesday I typed up a proclamation and took it down there [City Hall],” Neeley said.

Neeley is gay.

The proclamation was added to tonight’s city council meeting agenda on Friday, catching some council members by surprise.

“It’s a proclamation that’s going to be ascended according to oral communication,” Neeely explained.

Council members Brian Ward, Cameron Hamilton and Pete McCracken are the only members on the current council that were also on the council in 2008.

Now, with the proclamation to recognize June as LGBT Pride Month, many may wonder if Porterville’s council members are having a turnaround in their decisions.

“There’s been a little bit of a shift in gay politics,” Neeley stated.

“I don’t think the two [Proposition 8 and the Proclamation for LGBT Pride Month] have any connection as far as I’m concerned,” vice mayor McCracken said Monday. 

According to Council Member Cameron Hamilton, the mayor has the sole power to accept any proclamation. Hamilton did not say he was against the proclamation and they are “not attacking homosexual citizens”, but he couldn’t comment on it because he only found out about the proclamation Monday and hadn’t had a chance to read it.

“I’m not sure if we will be asked to sign it,” Hamilton said, referring to the proclamation and whether the council members would have the opportunity to sign. It is customary for all council members to sign a proclamation.

“I haven’t seen a proclamation and haven’t been asked to sign it,” McCracken concurred. “I have not seen the language of the proclamation so I don’t know whether or not I would sign it,” if given the opportunity.

Mayor Gurrola stated, “the request [to add the proclamation to the agenda] was made for the June fourth agenda, and I try to look at the date and see if it can make it.”

Gurrola went on to explain, “I make the decision just like I do with all of the late submissions on proclamations and awards. It was a little easier to put the amendment on the agenda for tonight because another council member had also added an amendment.”

When discussing the stand the council had in 2008 on Proposition 8 and the council members that were on the council then and now, McCracken said, “I’m not aware of anything that would change their mind.”

Council member Brian Ward did not return calls seeking comment.

Porterville city council was the only city council in the state to officially declare support for Prop. 8. It was Ward who asked to place the council’s support to the measure on the agenda in 2008.

“This is not a reversal on the stand of the 2008 Proposition 8,” McCracken affirmed. “This has nothing to do with it; it’s a completely separate issue.”

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