In Spartanburg, South Carolina, Mayor Junie White is a strong ally of the LGBT community.
In late May, he signed a proclamation marking today, June 19th, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Day.
[The mayor signed] a resolution that states, “The city of Spartanburg supports efforts to ensure that everyone has the right to live in conditions of dignity, respect and peace” and “Pride Week celebrations contribute to reducing discrimination, isolation and barriers faced by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Two Spirited community.”
“I’m very excited, and I think it’s a sign that Spartanburg is willing to recognize everyone who lives in the city and outside the city and it recognizes civil rights and how we should respect and accept an individual’s choices,” said Councilwoman Cate Ryba, who attended last year’s march.
A week later, Mayor White wrote this wonderful op-ed piece in the Herald-Journal.
I believe that in time, just like with the right of American women to vote, and the right of people of any race to marry people of another race, most people will come to agree that all people should be afforded the same right to love and marry whom they please, work where they please, and enjoy these rights without worry.
All the LGBT folks want to do is have a march, to be recognized in their struggle to have the same rights as all other Americans. As mayor of the city of Spartanburg, I am proud that their organization came forward to ask for the proclamation, because they believe in our city, that Spartanburg is a place where all persons can speak up without fear.
That’s all they want — a march to be recognized. They want to show people they exist. And that there’s nothing wrong with who they are.
Civil rights? For LGBT people?! We can’t have that, said a whole bunch of local Christians.
Yesterday, there was a protest against the Pride Day in front of Spartanburg City Hall.
Joining them was City Councilwoman Linda Dogan.
You have to hear this speech she gives. It’s vile… she is *really* angry that the LGBT community is getting any recognition.
I listened to that disgusting speech. And then I started it over, clenched my teeth, and transcribed the damn thing just to get it on record.
Grace and peace be with you, from God, our father, and our Lord, Jesus Christ. I’m not coming to you as a city councilperson. I’m coming to you as a child of God.
You know, what people don’t understand, we are not speaking hate. We are speaking love. But as a child of God, God says, “If you deny me, I will deny you.”
And for this proclamation to go on without the knowledge of full council is an insult. In my 16 years as a council member, I have never been so embarrassed. You know, for our families, this is an insult. And it’s early to say… I love [Mayor] Junie White, but he will go down as the worst mayor of the city of Spartanburg. The worst. [Crowd yells, "Right on!"] And it’s not hate.
But let me go a little deeper. As a black woman, born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, born during segregation, not one time we rode the back of the bus they ask you if you were gay or not. They looked at the color of your skin and they said, “You got to go, then.”
So when you talk about civil rights, you talk about stuff that’s real, that people have gone through. I went to a restaurant when I was 17. They said, “I’m sorry but you can’t come in the front door.” The thing about being black, I can’t take this off. But being gay or lesbian or whatever you want to call it, you can choose to be that way. You can choose to be that way. I can’t choose to be black. I’m proud of it. I am proud of it because God made us all equal.
The insult is deeper. It’s not only Christians that it’s offensive, but as a black person. And I want to know where the black pastors are. [Crowd yells, "Where you at?"] You know, you can get mad at me if you want to. I’m used to people being mad at me. But you should be here! You should be here. Not to spew hate, but to give love. And I’m sick of people saying I don’t have compassion. I’m one of the more compassionate people that you will ever find. I’ve never said to a gay person, “I hate you ’cause of what you do.” I’ve never shown ‘em any difference than anybody else. But trust me, I felt the difference — as a black woman.
And I am not preaching, because I am not a preacher. [Crowd yells, "Yes, you are!"] I’m not a preacher. But I want you to know that I am not up here saying, “Hate.” I’m saying, “Love you.” But we don’t need to endorse YOUR lifestyle because you not going to endorse MY lifestyle. And to cause this, this division of our city, of our county, is just wrong.
If you’re true to the cause… you don’t have to cause that disruption. And I ask all of you here not to go to that parade, because you’re giving them what they want. They want you to go out there and howl at them and say, “You’re wrong.” Stay at home and pray for them! I just thank you all for taking this stand and sharing love. Make no mistake about it. This is love that we’re sharing. Nothing else.
And at 56 years old, when God had better send me somebody, it’s gonna be a man. A man.
You know, God bless you all. Thank you.
Where to begin…?
Ugh, I don’t know where to start. Feel free to pick it apart in the comments.
Just remember: they’re not proclaiming hate. They’re full of love. Pure love. All kinds of love. Loving love. Not hate. Love.
Couldn’t you hear it in her speech…?
***Update***: As one commenter notes, here’s the original proclamation:
“WHEREAS, the city of Spartanburg supports efforts to ensure that everyone has the right to live in conditions of dignity, respect and peace; and
WHEREAS, the city of Spartanburg continues to advocate for the elimination of all forms of discrimination and is committed to equal treatment of all people; and
WHERE, Pride Week celebrations contribute to reducing discrimination, isolation, and barriers faced by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Two Spirited community.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Junie L. White, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the city of Spartanburg, and on behalf of my fellow City Council members, do hereby proclaim June 19, 2010, as:
LGBT PRIDE DAY.”
After Dogan complained, the mayor amended the proclamation:
… he removed the words, “On behalf of my fellow City Council members,” from the proclamation to, “Keep the peace.”
This happened weeks before she gave the speech in the video.
(Thanks to Seth for the link)