Yesterday, it looked like tonight’s Asheville City Council meeting would see a conflict over a proclamation recognizing the Blue Ridge Pride festival. This afternoon, however, an announcement from Blue Ridge Pride claims Mayor Terry Bellamy has agreed to sign a proclamation recognizing the event.
Normally, local groups request a proclamation from the city. If the mayor signs the proclamation, and the group wishes it read.
However, when the agenda for tonight’s Asheville City Council meeting emerged, the proclamation recognizing Pride wasn’t with the other proclamations, but under “new business,” meaning a vote would be required to pass it. An e-mail exchange released by Council member Bill Russell, revealed that Bellamy had made the decision to place the proclamation up for a vote during Council’s business portion of the meeting. Russell supported the proclamation, but wanted it read, as proclamations normally are, at the beginning of the meeting instead of being the subject of a contentious vote.
In the past, Bellamy has opposed some measures requested by LGBT advocates, including domestic partner benefits and an equality resolution.
This afternoon, however, festival organizers released the following announcement:
As has been recently reported, Blue Ridge Pride has requested a mayoral proclamation for October 1, 2011 to be declared Blue Ridge Pride Day in the City of Asheville. Ashley Arrington, Community Outreach Coordinator for Blue Ridge Pride stated, “We were saddened by the news that the mayor would not proclaim Blue Ridge Pride Day due to a previous mayoral proclamation being made in June for LGTBQ Awareness. Shortly after that decision was made Mayor Bellamy reached out to Blue Ridge Pride to discuss the circumstances and decision and we accepted that invitation to meet today. After clarifying that Blue Ridge Pride was not the requestor of the proclamation in June and much discussion about LGTBQ issues in our community, Mayor Bellamy was glad to sign the proclamation and did so immediately.”
There has been much public outcry about the decision and support shown to Blue Ridge Pride regarding the proclamation. “We are always appreciative of the support we get from our community, other organizations, and from our local leaders. Asheville City Council and the City of Asheville have always been supportive of our events and our organization’s work. Having a mayoral proclamation showing support for the hundreds of volunteers who make up our organization work is a great way to kick off the festival. We’re pleased to have the support of Mayor Bellamy and the City Council members for this year’s event.”
So far, the City Clerk’s office has not been available to confirm if this means the proclamation recognizing Blue Ridge Pride will be read at the beginning of the Council meeting.
— David Forbes, senior news reporter