Thursday, September 19, 2013

Around The Nation

California Mayor Booted Out Of Office For Declaring June LGBT Pride Month
Porterville City Council in June 2013
Pictured from left:Councilmen Brian Ward, Vice Mayor Pete McCracken,
Mayor Virginia Gurrola, Councilmen Greg Shelton,

Councilmen Cameron Hamilton. * Courtesy city photo
PORTERVILLE -- A running clash with city council members over a proclamation making June LGBT Pride month in the central California small city of Porterville has cost the mayor her job.
Mayor Virginia Gurrola and Vice Mayor Pete McCracken were stripped of their largely ceremonial titles earlier this week after the other three members, Councilmen Brian Ward, Greg Shelton, and Cameron Hamilton held a vote on a proposal that Ward introduced to strip Gurrola of her position as mayor along with McCracken as vice-mayor.
The controversy first erupted a June 4 city council meeting when Mayor Virginia Gurolla issued the proclamation recognizing the LGBTQ community despite a unanimous objection by city council members. Issuing proclamations is solely the jurisdiction of the mayor, and the rest of the city council typically signs onto the document. But, Councilmen Hamilton, Ward and Shelton voted to rescind it in a July 16 council meeting and replaced it with a resolution to call June “a month of community charity and goodwill to all in Porterville.” The three also threatened to recall the mayor.
Public reaction to Gurrola's initial proclamation had been met with approval from the city's LGBT community but outrage from those opposed. A local LGBTQ activist & blogger Jim Reeves described the contentious council meeting regarding rescinding the proclamation:
“Public comment during the meeting included a lot of vitriol directed at Mayor Gurrola by the religious community, with at least two speakers calling for the Biblical punishment for homosexuality – that homosexuals are ‘worthy of death.’ A few screamed at the Mayor while waving Bibles in the air."
Three LGBT rights activists — members of the activist group Get Equal — were arrested and detained by the police at the same meeting.
The Porterville City Council was the only city government in the state to support Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage in California in 2008.

Cleveland Teen will not face hate crime charge in Labour Day weekend attack
CLEVELAND --  A 16-year-old juvenile male arrested Tuesday on robbery charges stemming from the Labor Day weekend attack of a man outside a Cleveland LGBT bar will not face a hate crime charge. A spokesperson for Victor R. Perez, the city's Chief Assistant Prosecutor told LGBTQ Nation Thursday that Ohio statutes have no specifications for charges based on a victims' sexual orientation. A 1987 statute entitled “Ethnic Intimidation” only lists crimes that are committed against someone based on the victim’s race, color, religion or national origin will receive the enhanced bias charge.
City prosecutors Wednesday filed one complaint of suspected robbery against the juvenile for the Sept. 1 assault and robbery of 26-year-old Jared Fox. Fox, 26, said he was headed from his parked car to the bar, when a group of approximately 20 men surrounded him on the sidewalk, and using anti-gay slurs, beat him up, stole his wallet and cell phone according to a police report filed in the incident. The attack was caught on the bar’s surveillance cameras.
This was the second arrest after two separate incidents police investigated as hate crimes at outside the bar.
A 13-year-old boy was arrested shortly after a Sept. 6 incident in which a small group of young teenagers threw rocks and directed anti-gay slurs at customers on the bar's patio.
Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said that when sentencing offenders, one of the factors judges have to consider by law is “whether the offender was motivated by prejudice based on race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.” Prosecutors could argue that because a person targeted a member of the LGBT community, the convicted deserves a harsher sentence.

Mayor says it's time for Houston to pass its own nondiscrimination law
HOUSTON -- The only major metropolitan area now in Texas without a nondiscrimination ordinance which protects its LGBT residents has its openly lesbian mayor saying "it's time." Houston Mayor Annise Parker told reporters Wednesday that “It is something we should do."
Unlike other Texas municipalities such as San Antonio, which recently passed its own measure, Houston has a charter amendment that makes the council unable to pass an ordinance without voter approval.
But says Parker "the majority of council members have publicly stated they are in support of a nondiscrimination ordinance. This is an issue that requires all of the council to be engaged and agree it’s time to move it forward, she said adding, “We watched what happened in San Antonio and we’ll certainly talk to them about the process and then we’ll make our own decision."
Political observers agree that debate over a nondiscrimination ordinance would be contentious, however, most think that with the mayor's leadership, a proposed ordinance would likely succeed.
A spokesperson for the mayor who is up for reelection to a third and final term in office, indicated that any push for a nondiscrimination ordinance would not be expected until after the November elections.
Similar measures have already been passed in Dallas, Fort Worth, and the state's capital city of Austin.