By Tran Longmoore, www.thesalinepost.com
June has been proclaimed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month by Saline City Council.
Council voted 6-0 to adopt the proclamation at Monday’s meeting.
It’s not the first time Saline City Council has issued a proclamation in support of the LGBTQ community. In 2011, under Mayor Gretchen Driskell, council proclaimed April 15 as a “day of silence” to put an end to the harassment of LGBTQ individuals. Earlier this year, citing a lack of federal and state protections for LGBTQ individuals, city council adopted a non-discrimination ordinance.
The motion was moved by Councillor Dean Girbach and seconded by Councillor Linda TerHaar, two of the architects of the non-discrimination ordinance.
“We haven’t done this in a few years. Now that we have a non-discrimination ordinance, and because of the issues that are facing many of these individuals from our Washington offices, and the discrimination that’s being done to our veterans, it’s clear that we need to continue the fight for their rights,” Girbach told council. “This is simply the idea that (LGBTQ) individuals are no different than anyone else.”
Girbach cited the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of a baker in a much-publicized gay rights case. He said he worried about the precedent.
“It’s getting harder and harder in this country to be acceptable and to not be attacked,” Girbach said.
Councillor TerHaar said a person might say a proclamation is merely symbolic.
“But I think symbolism is extremely important,” TerHaar said. “We took a major step when we enacted the non-discrimination ordinance as an expression of the values of our community and I think this proclamation underscores that we are not forgetting that.”
Councillor Christen Mitchell also supported the resolution.
“I think it’s important that any individual who could be underserved in our community knows that they have advocates. We might not look like advocates. You might not be aware of it walking down the street. But we will stand up for others. We will not allow people bullied and taken down,” Mitchell said.
Mayor Brian Marl said that while he admired the passion that brought this proclamation before council, he’s generally not inclined to support these kinds of proclamations.
“I do believe there were modifications made between Thursday and today that have put me in a position of being supportive,” Marl said.
One of those changes, Marl said, was a statement that said all of Saline’s citizens contribute tangibly to the community. Another change was a statement recognizing deficiencies in government statutes that deprive some citizens of basic rights.
Council voted 6-0 to adopt the ordinance. Councillor Heidi McClelland, who started and finished the meeting at the council table, was absent for this vote and several others.