By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com September 19 2013 2:47 PM ET
The City Council in a small California town that rescinded its mayor's LGBT Pride Month proclamation in July has now removed the mayor and her second-in-command from office.
The Porterville, Calif., City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to remove council member Virginia Gurrola from her ceremonial position as mayor, in addition to booting vice mayor Peter McCracken from his post in City Hall, according to Fresno TV station KFSN.
Gurrola told the station she wasn't surprised by the vote, as she's faced intense criticism over her issuing a proclamation designating June as LGBT Pride Month in Porterville. That proclamation was rescinded in July by a 3-2 vote of the City Council.
Porterville's new mayor, Cameron Hamilton, said Gurrola's ouster was unrelated to her support for LGBT people.
"If the LGBT community thinks that, then that's just what they're going to have to think," Hamilton told KFSN. "But reorganization has been called for every year since 2008."
Gurrola said, however, that the message sent by removing her from office is "in effect saying, you're not doing the job we want you to."
"I believe the underlying issue was the LGBT proclamation," Gurrola told KFSN. When Gurrola introduced that proclamation earlier this summer, she was met with fierce opposition from right-wing, religious, and conservative townspeople, who launched into viscous antigay rhetoric at a public hearing on the move. LGBT advocates and supporters also attended the hearing, at one point screaming at the council members,"You hate us!" when councilman Brian Ward asked why LGBT people needed "special consideration" with a proclamation. Ultimately, the city council rescinded the LGBT Pride proclamation and declared June "a month of community charity and goodwill to all in Porterville."
Blogger Jim Reeves notes that Ward, the new vice mayor, has a long history of pursuing an anti-LGBT agenda in the City Council. Ward, who is Mormon, introduced the motion to remove Gurrola from office, though notably not from her seat on the council.
In 2008, Ward introduced a resolution declaring the city's official position in support of California's Proposition 8, which rescinded the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian Californians. Reeves notes that resolution made Porterville the only government body in the country to adopt an official stance on Prop. 8. The voter-approved initiative was effectively overturned on a legal technicality by the U.S. Supreme court in June.
Watch ABC's report below.