California Mayor Issues LGBT Proclamation despite Hateful City and Council Outburst

Porterville’s LGBT Community encounters City gay haters in venomous outburst

By Melanie Nathan, June 04, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 9.25.19 PMIt 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.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 10.10.31 PMOver 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

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

We will make video available soon.

The mayor with Brock Neeley, John Coffee, Barry Caplan and Melissa McMurrey -- photo by Bryce Roeben.

The mayor with Brock Neeley, John Coffee, Barry Caplan and Melissa McMurrey — photo by Bryce Roeben.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 10.41.29 PM


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.
Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 10.06.59 PM

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35 Comments on “California Mayor Issues LGBT Proclamation despite Hateful City and Council Outburst”

  1. Jim Reeves June 5, 2013 at 12:09 AM #

    Reblogged this on Queer Landia and commented:
    I’ll be adding more thoughts in a later blog, myself. It’s clear the progress we thought Porterville had made has not truly materialized.

    • Melanie Nathan June 5, 2013 at 12:39 AM #

      I have added too

      • GaybyGod September 29, 2013 at 10:35 AM #

        This could become a horror flick. Holier than thou, condescending citizens, lynching their loving, caring, compassionate Mayor, because of their “HATE”. What will their Gay children, grandchildren, great grandchildren feel. Sadly most will cower in their closet, move away, or worst, hate themselves till they take their own life, one way or another. What one sows, so shall they reap.

  2. Timothy B. Phelps June 5, 2013 at 6:10 AM #

    You presume upon a prerogative that is not yours when you refer to Kenneth Avila as an apparent member of Westboro Baptist Church. Your blind prejudice does you no service. WBC is a local, visible church in Topeka, KS … not an amorphous entity with members floating about the country or world (like most whorehouses posing as churches these days).

    Kenneth Avila is simply a Californian who sees the filth of sodomy for what it is. He has made no profession of faith and therefore could not be a member of WBC. Shame on you bigots for painting with such an undisciplined brush in your blind hatred for God’s Word and standard.

    • Melanie Nathan June 5, 2013 at 7:53 AM #

      WELCOME – YAH ITS A PHELPS CRAWLING OUT OF HIS SIN HOLE – welcome Mr. Phelps….. and are you putting down Mr. Avila, your fellow worshiper in the name of Hate? Oy Vey!! Not nice Mr. Phelps – he is one of you… you should be nurturing the connection… That said we all know who the fringe bigot is.

      Oh and lest you do not know who I AM and how I think and feel let me be clear Mr. Phelps. I am a lesbian and a a person who loves God, and the Bible – which last time I read does not put down my sexuality, but embraces it… and YES I will say it I even love the Phelps’s – (Hi Shirl…. ) Though I love the Phelp’s it is only their SIN that I hate…..

    • Melanie Nathan June 5, 2013 at 7:59 AM #

      Oh and by the way Shirley et al do a lot of floating around the country.They dont just stay at home base and Timmy u should know it…. Mr Avila is a copycat? LOL – do hear that Visalia Porterville – he aint even real! Well he got himself arrested last night for not listening to the cops when asked to move his sorry tuchus off the sidewalk. And he says he is one of YOU!

    • Nick Altieri June 10, 2013 at 2:05 PM #

      You sir are the bigot. Jesus never said a thing about gay. He did say ” ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mr. Phelps, while the accusation that Mr. Avila is a member of WBC is incorrect, his actions certainly reflect their thinking and past actions. I must assume you feel the same way by your comment. Calling those that do not tolerate intolerance, bigots is rich.

      • Frank Cardinalli July 20, 2013 at 7:00 PM #

        Well maybe Mr. Avila can’t love his neighbor because he doesn’t love himself.
        Maybe he’s fighting his own issues and finds the scapegoating of homosexuals
        to be a means of relief. Now what, pray tell, might that be?

    • Brock Neeley June 24, 2013 at 5:57 AM #

      Guess you forgot to :Pick and Choose” the part of the bible that says thou shall not lie. Watch the video and see who is there with your gang.

  3. Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill June 5, 2013 at 8:01 AM #

    הריני מקבל (מקבלת) עלי מצות הבורא: ואהבת לרעך כמוך
    “Hareini mikabel(et) alai et mitzvat HaBorei: Ve-ahavtah le-reiakha kamokha
    (I am taking upon myself the command of the Creator to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself).” – Leviticus 19, passim, from the prayerbook, Siddur Sim Shalom, Daily Morning Service.

    • Melanie Nathan June 5, 2013 at 8:15 AM #

      Thank you Rabbi. We need to clean these pages with a special prayer after Westboro visits…. and remind ourselves about Hashem’s true blessing

  4. Patrick Fasano June 5, 2013 at 9:32 AM #

    Just what are you religious zealots afraid of? Is it the fact that gay people like to have fun? is it that we respect other beliefs and allow them just TO BE? Is it that you’re jealous of our desire to decry our beliefs and want to enjoy creating a beautiful life? The same rights you have? Or maybe you just want to come out of the closet yourself, and you’re angry that you can’t or don’t have the wherewithall to even embrace your own truth? Just FYI. I was a member of a devout, Pentecostal church when i was young. Never did I see more homosexual sex than during those days. It was their hypocrisy that made me leave that church and discover that truth is more worthy of my support than blatant, blind liars. My respects to those who truly embrace their beliefs. Believe me. We have no plans for a Gay jihad. We just want the same rights you have. Does that scare you? Keep in mind, even if a gay person moved in right next door to you, the most you would see is a miraculous improvement in the appearance of the property, and some lovely landscaping.

  5. paulakey245562841 June 5, 2013 at 6:33 PM #

    To Timothy Phelps: You wrote to Melanie, “Your blind prejudice….” You have got to be kidding…you of all people writing about blind prejudice…you and your evil anti-God members attending and disrupting fallen soldiers funerals…holding placards that states that “God hates homosexuals!” Like Melanie, I have spent 34 years of service to students teaching about the LOVE of God (I have taught in a Catholic High School).

    Mr. Phelps, you do not KNOW Jesus, you have planted your life in the Old Testament. You chose selections that portray a God of wrath, destroying men, women, children and cattle. Go to the New Testament, where Jesus said, “Abba.” This is the equivalent of “daddy.” He was revealing a loving, tender father who loves ALL his children.

    Go to the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In the days of Jesus, a shadow of a Samaritan falling over the shadow of a Jew would result in the Jew going to the Temple for purification. Yet, Jesus chose the Samaritan as the hero of the parable and drank from the cup of a Samaritan woman. You and your ilk have made homosexuals the modern day “Samaritans.” And I know, if Jesus was preaching today, it would be the Parable of the Good Homosexual.

    Mr. Phelps, God is Love. (John 1) and from the Sermon on the Mount, I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall see God.”

    Your hatred will consume, you, Mr. Phelps. My lesbian love (not lust) not only sustains me in my fifteen year relationship, but its reality lifts my soul towards Heaven.
    I pray for your soul and hopefully, in a dream, you will hear Jesus say, as he did in the past to Saul (Paul), “Timothy, Timothy, why are you persecuting me.” And you will know it is homosexuals and other innocent God loving people that you are persecuting.
    What a waste of a life, Mr. Phelps, to dwell in hatred.

  6. paulakey245562841 June 5, 2013 at 6:36 PM #

    Rabbi, I believe the word “Rabbi” means teacher. God bless you for this teaching and blessing. How the soul rejoices when it is greeted with a blessing, rather than a curse.
    I feel so honoured.

  7. paulakey245562841 June 5, 2013 at 6:40 PM #

    To the Rabbi: I need to apologize. I asked Mr. Phelps to go to the New Testament.
    The Talmud is rich in the love of God. Images of God like a hen looking after her chicks; or an Eagle carrying her young high in the clouds. There is Isaiah whose love for his wife mirrors a loving God. Psalm 139, and the Lord is My Shepherd are other examples.
    Forgive me, I didn’t think. All religions have excellent examples of the Love of God.

    • Nick Altieri June 10, 2013 at 2:07 PM #

      I must believe that Rabbi Steinberg-Caudill is aware that both the new and old testaments display the love of God.

  8. Dale Bates June 5, 2013 at 8:14 PM #

    The mayor needs to resign.

    • Melanie Nathan June 5, 2013 at 10:42 PM #

      he Mayor needs to resign because – why? Because you have hate in your heart Dale bates?

    • Jeff T. Stowe June 10, 2013 at 8:31 AM #

      If this is the Dale Bates from the Ducor area whose wife used to drive us kids to school in the but because if it is I’ve lost any respect for you. For shame. People shouldn’t resign when they stand up to evil and that exactly what she did with that proclamation.

      • Melanie Nathan June 10, 2013 at 9:19 AM #

        Jeff I have put up your comment via my moderation but honestly I cant make any sense of it. So giving you an opportunity to articulate what it is you are TRYING to say.

  9. JackK June 5, 2013 at 10:47 PM #

    A shallow demonstration. The Pro-Sodomite Mayor is going to be removed by the other 4 Council members, the Mayor is appointed by the Council and soon she will be recalled and no more of these type of Resolutions will ever be declared in Porterville.
    A storm is gathering in Porterville…..

    • Melanie Nathan June 5, 2013 at 11:04 PM #

      The Mayor is a HERO and if she needs to be martyred for our cause – so be it- We will make her hero. She will make ten times more money – we will see to it that she is rewarded with speaking engagements around the USA. Our national community of LGBT equality seekers will see to it she gets awards – and the losers will be the people of Porterville -and you bigots would have given us a Mrtyr – So go ahead do your hateful UNAmerican recall

  10. Mara Alexander June 6, 2013 at 12:43 AM #

    It’s within everyone’s right to vote their conscience, even if others don’t agree. It’s within everyone’s right to have their own set of moral values and feelings towards others. It is even legal to share those feelings, thoughts and beliefs in public.

    But is it RIGHT to show this much hatred towards any group of people? Is it Christian? Is it moral? What are you showing your children, by hating a group of people so much that you attack like a rabid dog? A group that’s done nothing whatsoever TO you…

    I am absolutely aghast at the vitriol being shared in some of these “anti” comments. Would Jesus have spoken that way…to ANYONE? No, and if you think otherwise, I suggest you spend some time reading the book you profess to live by.

    These words you’re spewing…is that the same mouth that you use to profess a love of God with?

    No one is (or should be) trying to change your views. They are what they are…and you have a right to them, just as the LGBT community has a right to peacefully exist.

    I think the mayor showed remarkable bravery, if this is what life in Porterville is like. For whatever this is worth, you have my support and my prayers.

  11. JackK June 6, 2013 at 7:33 AM #

    WE moral citizens would rather have the soon to be EX Mayor running with you people than making our City dirty, if she makes a lot of sodomite money, that just speaks to who and what she really is. The Recall effort is NOW being organized.

    • Melanie Nathan June 6, 2013 at 8:23 AM #

      Recalling the Mayor is you playing GOD and sitting as judge – mmmm the Bible tells you you cannot be Judge – that is God’s job. However you want revenge – retribution – because the Mayor does not share your interpretation of Bible or the mayor does not think Bible should be brought into civil law and acceptance of all as equal in the civil realm.

      Are lesbians Sodomites JackK? How many straight people have anal sex – and yet no labels? How many people have committed adultery and not been condemned to death? How many have kicked a football made of pig skin? You per chance? Have you eaten pork or shrimp lately? How about that XMAS HAM? Are YOU an abomination? Loving relationships condemned by YOU means you purport to stand in GOD’s shoes. Are you not steeped in sin – as you caste your stones? The recall of the Mayor is based on illicit Judgment and hence is in and of itself sinful- that is if you want to keep using your biblical analogies. Not very smart of you JAckK. Welcome to the Kingdom of Earth – where civility and laws making all equal abound. I hope you can find a better ay to channel your misappropriated anger – …..

  12. Lanie Wagenberg June 6, 2013 at 8:11 PM #

    It saddens and frightens me that some Porterville residents could spew such hate and make threats against members of the LGBT community. I can only imagine what it felt like to be a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person sitting in those council chambers being verbally attacked over a piece of paper proclaiming June as LGBT Pride month.

  13. Louie Campos June 6, 2013 at 10:17 PM #

    The group picture with the California flag was not taken at the Porterville event. I know because I am in that picture. While I would like to have been counted among the brave people that stood before the Porterville City Council, I am not. That picture was taken from the Visalia Proclamation ceremony the afternoon before.
    Mayor Gurrola is a profile in courage and so are all of those that conducted themselves with dignity the other day.

    • Melanie Nathan June 7, 2013 at 7:46 AM #

      WE SAID it was taken in Visalia – your probably missed that….

  14. Anthony Barcellos June 6, 2013 at 10:23 PM #

    This is one Porterville native who commends the mayor for her devotion to human rights. Shame on the other members of the city council for their smallmindedness.

  15. Ray Hixson June 8, 2013 at 2:04 PM #

    I admire the Mayor for her courage to do the right thing. Thank you Mayor. I think your courage could actually save lives, serving as a spark of hope for someone in your town struggling to survive in a hostile home or other environment.

    “Each time a [wo]man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, [s]he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Robert F. Kennedy

    To those who disagree, I want to say, the light in me sees the light in you. The anti-gay views you express sound like primitive beliefs you were forced to absorb from religious brainwashing (i.e., telling a child she will go to hell if she believes this, heaven if she believes that). I appreciate how difficult it is to overcome beliefs that were baked in by brainwashing. I found it helpful in my experience to read about the historical background of religions and religious writings, so that I could better understand their origins. For example, the book Jesus Interrupted, or the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So. The antagonistic religious-based comments here remind me of the things the warring religious factions in Syria are saying about each other (i.e., Shiite against Alawite, Alawite against Shiite, etc.) Everyone honestly believes what they are saying, but objectively, it’s just craziness that originates from religious brainwashing. The sliver lining I see is that more and more people realize this every day, and are able to liberate from false, illogical, and destructive beliefs that they had absorbed. This is a path to living our best lives, with more love.

  16. Berkana June 11, 2013 at 12:53 PM #

    How sad Timothy that you actually believe you’re spreading the word of God! I have never heard such hate except in the religious cult I grew up in. It seems very twisted to me that according to your message, heaven will be full of people like you who hate and Hell is going to be full of people like myself, proud to be a lesbian!! who love others and give to others. It’s so sad how much hate comes from your church and it’s so abusive to teach your children to hate!!!! WAKE UP, it’s not about hate, it’s about love, kindness and spreading peace


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