Weeks after making good on a campaign promise to rescind insurance benefits for the same-sex partners of city employees, Colorado Springs mayor Lionel Rivera publicly praised the annual gay PrideFest celebration, which provides educational opportunities and recognizes diversity within the community. Rivera signed a proclamation Thursday declaring June 23-29 as PrideFest Week. The proclamation has angered some religious conservatives who were instrumental in bringing Rivera and other council members to power. "Colorado Springs welcomes anybody to our community--anybody who wants to contribute and participate in civic functions and enjoy the lifestyle they want," Rivera said.
Former mayor Mary Lou Makepeace had recognized the event with a proclamation every year from 1997 until leaving office this year. Rivera and six of the seven council members elected April 1 had pledged to eliminate domestic-partner benefits, joining two holdovers who had opposed the benefits. At their first meeting, held on April 22, they voted 8-1 to eliminate the benefits, which cost the city about $6,000 this year.