Mayor says no to proclamation for third year
SALISBURY — For the third year, Mayor Paul Woodson has turned down a request from Salisbury Pride to proclaim Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Day.
The group will host the fourth annual Salisbury Pride Day on June 21. Former Mayor Susan Kluttz issued a proclamation for LGBT Pride Day in 2010, but Woodson has declined to do the same since he took the mayor’s office in 2011.
Woodson said the group’s request does not meet the guideline for mayoral proclamations that states, “Proclamations regarding matters of controversy will not be issued.”
Pride representatives say they don’t see their event as different from other diversity celebrations like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, La Fiesta de Rowan or Let’s Get Connected Day. Tamara Sheffield, Salisbury Pride Committee president, pointed out in an email to Woodson that the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy specifically bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as prohibiting discrimination or harassment because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status or any other personal characteristic unrelated to job performance.
“We are not a controversial organization,” Sheffield told the Post. “According to the city policy, we are no different than any protected class that should not be discriminated against.”
The mayoral proclamation policy and the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy are two separate, unrelated items, Woodson said. The other events met the guidelines for proclamations and were issued, he said.
Sheffield said Salisbury Pride is aligned with the city’s mission statement, which lists “inclusion and diversity” as well as “fairness and equality.”
Salisbury Pride earned national recognition as an example of positive progress in the state of North Carolina, Sheffield said.
The Pride annual event draws some of the largest and most diverse crowds of the year to downtown Salisbury, she said.
“We now have a proven track record of being a positive event for the city as well as one of the largest to draw people to downtown,” Sheffield said.
In 2013, Pride had thousands of participants and more than 60 sponsors and vendors, ranging from Food Lion parent company Delhaize America and Frito-Lay to local companies like Team Chevrolet and ZINC Insurance to churches and nonprofit organizations.
“Salisbury Pride continues to gain positive momentum and remains a positive organization for the city of Salisbury,” Sheffield wrote to Woodson.
The group was nominated for a 2012 Human Rights Campaign Equality Award, established a scholarship fund for Salisbury-Rowan PFLAG, participated in a Stop the Silence anti-bullying rally and received the Human Rights Campaign 2014 Trailblazer Award.
“We were very proud to represent Salisbury as a progressive city,” Sheffield said.