Porterville’s LGBT Community encounters City gay haters in venomous outburst
By Melanie Nathan, June 04, 2013.
It has been a long dirty battle between the LGBTQ community and some choice government officials and residents of the town of Porterville, California, culminating in tonight’s City Hall showdown, where Mayor Virginia Gurolla issued a proclamation recognizing the LGBTQ community at tonight’s City Council meeting, despite the objections of all her City Council members and a large hall of community members. And the fallout? Death threats by religious bible punchers against the LGBT community.
The Mayor had asked the city council to consider signing on to the proclamation that would recognize June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Month. As some may remember, the Porterville City Council was the only city council in California to declare its support for Proposition 8 in 2008 which banned marriage equality in the State.
Authorizing the proclamation was the sole prerogative of the mayor and usually the city council would sign too, but in this instance not a single City Council member signed, all refusing, amidst a heated debate.
Over 50 LGBT community members attended the meeting to express gratitude for the Mayor’s acknowledgment, although vastly outnumbered by an non-supportive community. What should have been a celebration was marred by what one community member noted as one of the scariest experiences of her life. Jennifer McGuire a well known LGBT activist in the area told me:
“That was one of the scariest and most horrific experiences of my life! I have never been in the same room with people (yes multiple people) that actually called for my death and the systematic extermination of all LGBT people; I have never been surrounded by so many hateful people; and I have never been so proud of the LGBT community for maintaining respect and decorum and civility (and trust me it was difficult). I have a new respect and understanding for our LGBT community members who will live and work in areas like Porterville, and I thank you for all you do.”
The Mayor signed it and came down to shake the hand of the gay recipients and then all hell broke loose in the open comments. In the meantime, the Mayor, left alone and attacked literally by her colleagues on both sides and the public, was reduced to tears.
Another lesbian member of the community Melissa McMurrey, who runs the organization Gay Porterville, told me that their community really needs all the help it can get:
“We really need the support of the rest of the outside LGBT communities. Tonight was horrific, terrifying, and heartbreaking.”
The City Councillors did not express as much of the hateful rhetoric as did the community, however they kept repeating their disapproval of the proclamation saying over and over again, that they could not support the “gay agenda.” What they must surely realize is how this fuels the hate.
The latter clearly evidenced by many residents calling for the removal of the Mayor for her support of this proclamation, and some making death threats to the LGBT community, with people stating that LGBT people were an abomination. One LGBT person said that after the event she had received multiple emails from people who were at the meeting, stating how terrified they are for their safety.
A similar proclamation was presented in Visalia (picture above), a mere 30 miles away, without the vitriol and objection experienced in Porterville.
Eye witness accounts and an unconfirmed report has come in noting that the only person removed and possibly arrested or cited was Kenneth Avila, an apparent member of Westboro Baptist Church. After Avila called for gays to be killed during his 3 minutes in front of the council, he went out front to “protest” and was removed by the police for blocking the sidewalk.
To show support of the Gay community in Porterville, please visit the Gay Porterville website at http://www.gayporterville.com/
TO THANK THE MAYOR or Porterville who stood up for what is right, despite such an insidious attack against her. She risked the inevitable calls for her recall. Click here and send an email or card http://www.ci.porterville.ca.us/govt/CityCouncil/mayorsmessage.cfm
We will make video available soon.
ABOVE: EXCLUDING THE MAYOR WE HAVE A VERY SHAMEFUL PORTERVILLE CITY COUNCIL:
Pictured from left: Council Member Brian Ward, Vice Mayor Pete McCracken, Council Member Greg Shelton, Council Member Cameron Hamilton.
In the Middle is the Mayor Mayor Virginia Gurrola, who is to be thanked for her courage in standing up for her LGBT community in Porterville.