Valdosta Mayor Gayle continues to provide earned media to a group he doesn't agree with, South Georgia Pride. He says people support him ten to 1 in refusing to issue a proclamation against bullying. Yet a local TV online poll is running 2 to 1 against his position. In addition to the obvious cultural issues, there are also economic issues involved.
Dean Poling wrote for the VDT today, Pride denied: Valdosta mayor denies LGBT event proclamation,
WTXL.tv (ABC 27) asks in a poll attached to a story by Jade Bulecza yesterday, Mayor turns down proclamation request from gay community,
Do you agree with Mayor Gayle's decision not to sign the P.R.I.D.E. Proclamation?
That looks to me like 2 to 1 against the mayor's position. Bulecza's story included:
"Most of them (proclamations) are for the cancer society, the heart fund, you know things like this or either a pastor at a church for so many years and everything and this is the first one I get like this where my beliefs interfere with it," said Mayor Gayle.
The mayor says he recognizes all the group does for the community. He says he welcomes everyone to Valdosta.
Since Mayor Gayle took office in January this is the only proclamation he turned down. The south Georgia group says they had a proclamation signed last year.
In less than a year in office the mayor has already found difficulty separating his personal beliefs from his office as mayor.
What was he asked to sign, anyway? The VDT story has the details:
The requested proclamation does not include an endorsement of gay marriage nor does it officially endorse the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lifestyle.
“The proclamation opposes bullying and hate crimes based on sexual orientation,” Williams said. “It says the city recognizes we're here and we're part of the community.”
In essence, the submitted proclamation would have noted that the South Georgia Pride Committee:
- seeks a welcome environment for people of all sexual orientations or gender identity/expression;
- takes a stand against bullying and hate crimes and works to educate tolerance for all sexual orientations, races and religions;
- works to educate the community of AIDS/HIV infection and prevention;
- recognizes the contributions of area gay and transgender citizens to the texture and diversity of our community;
- recognizes that gay and transgender citizens work “alongside us in our places of employment, and contribute to the success of our employers and businesses”;
- recognizes that gay, transgender and “questioning students” attend area schools and colleges;
- recognizes that gay and transgender people donate time, talent, labor etc., to community organizations;
- recognizes that gay and transgender people attend area places of worship.
If signed, the proclamation would urge “all citizens to recognize and applaud the numerous contributions of the South Georgia Pride Committee as well as all gay and transgender members of the community.”
That's what the mayor refused to sign.
Williams said she and other South Georgia Pride members feel Valdosta is a far more welcoming place “that embraces everyone no matter their sexual orientation, their race, their sex, or their religious beliefs.
“We believe in and celebrate diversity,” Williams said, then referred to the city's motto. “Valdosta is a ‘city without limits’ and we believe that all citizens of Valdosta and Lowndes County should be proud of our diverse city.”
The lack of a proclamation will not hinder the South Georgia Pride Festival, Williams said. It is still scheduled for noon-7 p.m., Sept. 15, Saunders Park, off River Street. More information: Visit www.sgapride.org
VDT got that last wrong; it's actually www.southgapride.org/.
If Valdosta and Lowndes County want to attract knowledge-based jobs and workers, and to keep the ones who graduate from local high schools and colleges, it's worth realizing a thriving LGBT community is a leading indicator of an active community that attracts such jobs and people.
Hm, far from hindering South Georgia Pride's festival, all this free earned media will probably get more people to attend. Maybe the group should issue a proclamation thanking Mayor Gayle for all the free publicity he's organized for the festival!