Last week, the city of 54,000 in California’s Central Valley once again distinguished itself as an opponent of gay rights. The city council voted to remove the mayor, who during the summer issued a proclamation that Neeley had drafted declaring June 2013 LGBT Pride Month. The city council rescinded the proclamation in July, voting 3-2 to replace it with a resolution declaring June “a month of community charity and goodwill to all in Porterville.”
Gay rights supporters vowed to change the makeup of city council in next year’s local election.
Melissa McMurrey, the head of Gay Porterville, a local advocacy group, said many of the town’s gay people have emailed her, threatening to move elsewhere. “I got a lot of emails from people I used to go to high school with, saying, ‘I’m so glad I don’t live there anymore,'” McMurrey said.
McMurrey, however, is resolved to stay in Porterville and help elect new city council members in 2014.
McMurrey pointed to an interview Hamilton gave in 2009, in which the new mayor said in a YouTube video about Proposition 8 that his stance against gay marriage was tied to an “extreme public health issue.”
“If you look at the statistics among the gay community, everything goes up — cancer to the rectum — it’s not even pleasant to talk about,” Hamilton said then.