Norman City Council silences opposition to LGBT proclamation
By Ken Townsend
Amid an overflowing, standing room only crowd of red shirted supporters Norman, Oklahoma Mayor Lynne Miller, her voice filled with emotion proclaimed October 2016 to be LGBT History Month during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
Preceding this crowd pleasing announcement, however, a sense of anticipatory anxiety could be felt as the room began filling up over an hour before the meeting began. Norman police officers maintained a vigilant presence as social media had forewarned of impending protests disrupting the proclamation of October as LGBT History Month.
Showing up in support of the proclamation were members of Norman United, Kay Holladay representing PFLAG, Oklahoma City’s Freedom Oklahoma led by Troy Stevenson, Pastor Neill Coffman of Expressions Church and Community Center, OKC, and alliance groups from the University of Oklahoma, Norman and Oklahoma City. Also in attendance was Oklahoma U.S. Senate candidate, Sean Braddy, (I) from Norman.
As the meeting began the first order of business was to handle the numerous proclamations to be made. One by one the other proclamations were routinely read and unanimously approved without dissent. When the proclamation for LGBT History Month came up, the routine halted.
Councilman Robert Castleberry spoke up and said he had received several emails from constituents wanting to address the Council concerning this proclamation. He then made a motion which was seconded to allow members of the audience to voice their opinion regarding this proclamation.
Discussion among the members of the Council regarding this motion made mention that the last time they opened up discussions to the public on an LGBT topic the results were disastrous. This was in reference to the Council meeting six years ago when hateful words from protestors about members of the LGBT community resulted in the suicide of a young man a week later.
Finally, the issue was settled when Council member Breea Clark brought up the fact that no other proclamation in the past several years had been opened to public debate and to do so with a proclamation regarding the LGBT community would be discriminatory against this class of citizens. That, apparently was a good enough argument for the rest of the Council and the resulting vote was 6-1 against opening the floor for public discussion.
The subsequent vote of the proclamation was unanimous and October was officially declared LGBT History month in Norman, OK.
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