Porterville California City Council to Vote on Controversial Same-Sex Marriage Topic Yet Again

PRESS RELEASE
July 29, 2009
Porterville, CA

Continues to drain city resources and reputation

Former Mayor and current Councilmember Cameron Hamilton is scheduled to introduce a resolution asking the Council to condemn same sex marriage, this time using Mark Leno’s Senate Bill 54 as a hook, at the next Porterville City Council Meeting on August 4, 2009. The meeting will take place at 7PM at City Hall on Main Street in Porterville, deep in California’s Central Valley. Local Civil Rights advocates and leaders will be available for press comments both before and after the meeting.

Unlike last September’s resolution in support of Prop 8 introduced by Councilmember Brian Ward which passed unanimously with minimal public notice, Hamilton’s new attempt is happening in full view of Civil Rights advocates from Porterville and across the state. The local advocates have been present at every public meeting for months educating City Council and Portervillians on how Council’s September Resolution hurts individuals and places the ability of the City to do its ordinary business at risk.

At the July 21, 2009 City Council meeting Hamilton asked for permission to introduce a resolution regarding Senate Bill 54. SB 54, introduced by Mark Leno (D-SF) would allow same-sex couples who were married legally in another state but who are now in California all the rights rights that California grants married couples except the right to call themselves married. This is squarely in line with Prop 8 supporting campaign materials and rank and file comments that the issue is not the rights granted to the couples but rather the name “marriage”.

During the very heated discussion at the most recent Council meeting on July 21, new Mayor Pete McCracken, and Councilmen Pedro Martinez and Felipe Martinez echoed the advocate’s arguments that they have heard many times: that Council is not the place to discuss State and Federal level matters and that damages the City’s economic development efforts. Hamilton persisted, McCracken demanded a call to order to avoid what multiple accounts have described as Councilmen nearly coming to blows.

A vote on whether Hamilton would be allowed to introduce a resolution was evenly split, with McCracken and Felipe Martinez opposed, Hamilton and Ward in favor, and Pedro Martinez abstaining. This change from September’s previous unanimous vote sets the stage for a dramatic discussion and vote at the next meeting on August 4th.

“Councilmember Hamilton and Vice Mayor Ward continue to damage the ability of Porterville’s City Government to do its job in these difficult times by bringing personal and religious concerns before Council,” said Barry Caplan, Porterville Civil Rights advocate.

“Council’s prior actions and resolutions have led to the split of Californians into 3 arbitrary classes where there should only be one:
1 – People who are free to marry those who they love
2 – People who are not free to marry those who they love
3 – People who are currently married but should they become single again through death and divorce will not be allowed to marry the person they love again

“It is well past time for Cameron Hamilton to stop wasting Porterville City time, resources, and its valuable reputation for his own and Ward’s personal crusade.”

“SB 54 does not create any new law or change the law,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who helped draft the legislation. “It simply clarifies the rights of married same-sex couples in the aftermath of Prop 8, which is essential to prevent needless cost, confusion and anxiety on the part of same-sex couples and third parties dealing with those couples.”

“Because Prop. 8 created such a confusing, unequal situation for legally married same-sex couples, it is critical that California enact this legislation so that these couples are treated fairly and businesses and others have guidance as to what the law requires,” said Equality California (EQCA) Executive Director Geoff Kors. “All legally married couples deserve to be treated respectfully. Therefore, we urge the Porterville City Council to oppose this counter-productive resolution.”

ABOUT PORTERVILLE, CA: Porterville is a town of approximately 50,000 deep in the heart of the Central Valley of California, located midway between Fresno and Bakersfield in rural Tulare County. The primary industries are citrus growing and providing mental health services for developmentally delayed individuals on behalf of the State of California.

During the 2008 campaign for Prop 8, Porterville’s City Council voted unanimously in a Resolution to urge its citizens to vote to remove existing Civil Rights from some Californians. It was the only Council in California to vote in favor of supporting Prop 8. Porterville citizens responded to the Council’s call, voting over 75% in favor of the measure. Advocates for Civil Rights have been active and present at every public meeting since the California Supreme Court ruled Prop 8 as a valid Amendment, and at most meetings prior to that dating back to September 2008. The advocates work to shine a light on the actions and effects of the Resolution on Porterville’s entire population.

Porterville’s next City Council meeting takes place Tuesday August 4th, 7PM at City Hall, 291 North Main Street in Porterville. Final Agendas are generally available the Friday afternoon before the meeting, and are available from Luisa Herrera, Deputy City Clerk. Ms.
Herrera is available at Tel: (559) 782-7464, Fax: (559) 715-4010, and
email: lherrera@ci.porterville.ca.us

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