Vacaville mayor refuses to sign Pride Month declaration (2024)

[From BenIndy: For what it’s worth, Mayor Steve Young of the City of Benicia issued (and signed!) a proclamation for Pride Month at its May 21 City Council meeting – a proclamation that declares that Stonewall was a riot, references support for transgender individuals specifically, and cheerfully namedrops the LGBTQ+ community about six times (reasonably, as they are the subject of the proclamation); on top of that, Benicia raised its Pride flag yesterday, to fly through June. These proclamations and flag raisings are among the easiest ways cities can demonstrate the most basic level of support for inclusivity and representation for our queer friends and family, to the point of becoming fairly standard in CA. It’s shocking to see a Bay Area politician throw off his obligation to serve the vulnerable and marginalized in his community and instead attempt to actively perpetuate their ongoing marginalization.]

Vacaville mayor refuses to sign Pride Month declaration (1)

Solano NewsNet, by Matthew Keys, June 4, 2024

Vacaville Mayor John Carli declined to sign a Pride Month declaration that was recommended by LGBTQ community advocates, opting instead to have the city’s vice mayor affirm an amended endorsem*nt that he wrote under a little-known policy enacted earlier this year.

The matter dates back to mid-April, when executive leaders at the Solano Pride Center sent a draft proclamation to Mayor Carli’s office that declared June as “Pride Month” and contained numerous references to landmark LGBTQ events.

Those events included the police raid at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, which is seen as the catalyst for the modern Gay Rights movement, as well as the Supreme Court’s decision in 2015 that cleared the way for same-sex marriage across the country. It also referenced a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in 2016, during which 49 people were murdered.

“Despite this extraordinary progress, LGBTQ Americans still face discrimination simply for being who they are, and there remains much work to do to extend the promise of our country to every American,” the draft proclamation read, according to a copy obtained by Solano NewsNet.

“The city of Vacaville proudly stands with the LGBTQ community of Solano County, and with all communities who struggle for human rights, acceptance, visibility, safety, and in the quest for full equality under law,” the draft concluded, with an affirmation that June 2024 be recognized as LGBTQ Pride Month “to remind everyone to work together to advance the principles upon great nation was founded and to celebrate the great diversity of Vacaville.”

The Solano Pride Center circulated their draft proclamation to Carli and other members of the Vacaville City Council earlier this spring. Despite the outreach attempts, no one from the mayor’s office communicated directly with the Solano Pride Center, Executive Director Will McGarvey said in an email to Solano NewsNet.

Instead, the Solano Pride Center has worked with other city council members on the matter leading up to June. McGarvey said some council members affirmed a willingness to support some kind of Pride Month proclamation, though he didn’t say which.

Carli has not responded to an email seeking comment on the matter. In an interview with The Reporter newspaper, he affirmed writing a declaration of his own, which he then delegated to Vice Mayor Greg Ritchie to sign.

The amended declaration is broader than the proposed proclamation offered by the Solano Pride Center, affirming “equality of opportunity and freedom from discrimination” for “every person,” and noting that “our nation was founded upon and is guided by a set of principles that includes the provision that every person has been created equal, that each has rights to their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and that each shall be accorded the full recognition and protection of the law.”

“The City of Vacaville has welcomed people for centuries, and has always celebrated both our interconnectedness as well as our differences,” the proclamation reads.

The document does not reference the LGBTQ community until the final line, saying the City of Vacaville recognizes the need to “support, include and safeguard” members of said community. Solano NewsNet is publishing the document for the first time.

In the newspaper interview, Carli said gay people were “welcome in Vacaville,” but did not explain why he delegated the endorsem*nt of the declaration to the city’s vice mayor. A community advocate who spoke with Solano NewsNeton Tuesday said the move made it seem as if LGBTQ protections and inclusiveness were not a priority for the City or its mayor.

Carli has clashed with the Solano Pride Center on more than one occasion. Last year, Carli declined to sign a similar proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month, and affirmed his decision to not have the Pride Flag fly on a flagpole installed on city property.

At that time, Carli said the City needed to enact a definitive policy regarding flags flown on city-owned land. The City Council acknowledged his request and crafted a policy that would open the door for non-government flags to be flown by incorporating those flags as “government speech.” The policy allows local government leaders to decide which flags should be flown, and when.

Carli was one of two to vote against the measure last November. The other was Vacaville City Council Member Roy Stockton. Both men are long-time law enforcement professionals: Carli served as Vacaville’s police chief for more than three decades before retiring in 2021. Stockton has been a member of Vacaville’s city council since 2020, and is still active with the Solano County Sheriff’s Office.

Both Carli and Stockton similarly voted against a measure earlier this year that would include the Pride Flag in its flags and proclamation policy. The amendment, which passed despite Carli and Stockton’s objections, also incorporated the Juneteenth flag and the flags of each military branch.

Carli did not provide much insight into his objections. But in the newspaper interview this week, he suggested his own personal beliefs, and certain others that he agrees with, were guiding his decision-making process.

Specifically, Carli said he had reservations about certain events held at the Solano Pride Center, as well as gender-affirming care for Transgender youth. The draft proclamation circulated by the Solano Pride Center earlier this year made no reference to gender-affirming care for any Transgender individuals. Still, Carli found it an issue worth mentioning.

“It is OK to say I pause to allow for science and medicine and psychology to speak for itself,” Carli affirmed. He continued: “A lot of this is about people’s individual beliefs, and my career has been focused on making sure people’s beliefs and values systems are protected.”

Community advocates believe Carli is prioritizing certain beliefs over the protections and recognition of a historically-marginalized community.

“It makes a difference when an elected official who has taken an oath of office has chosen to turn their back on a community like ours and views this through a religious lens rather than civil rights lens,” McGarvey said.

Vacaville mayor refuses to sign Pride Month declaration (2024)
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