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Aztec Proclaims June LGBTQ Pride Month

 


Aztec City Commission has issued an official proclamation naming June LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Questioning) Pride Month in Aztec. The proclamation was listed as Item VII on the June 12 agenda. According to Mayor Victor Snover, Commissioner Mark Lewis proposed the proclamation, “a couple months ago.” A proclamation is not a legal document and is more symbolic in nature, “In the case of proclamations, if someone has something they want to do, we submit it to the city manager and they take it to the department heads and if there are no serious discrepancies or disruption to city business then the city commission will discuss it and decide whether to go forward.” Snover said, “No one on the commission came to me with any concerns, so we went ahead with it.”

The Proclamation was presented to Farmington Pride Co-Chairs Don Stage and M.P. Schildmeyer. A retired attorney, Schildmeyer is the acting Democratic Party SJC chair and is running for the District Three NM House of Representatives seat against incumbent Paul Bandy (R). Through the Pride Proclamation Schildmeyer hopes to raise awareness about the desperate plight that faces many LGBTQ youth, “I have met many young people, as young as 10 years of age, in our community who have been thrown our of their homes by their parents for ‘coming out.’” Schildmeyer points to the disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth who commit suicide annually as an indicator that serious change in the form of tolerance and acceptance is needed. Schildmeyer is actively trying to get a similar Pride Proclamation issued in Farmington. “At first I just dropped off the proposal at the mayor’s office, he (Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett) called me and said, he couldn’t single out a group ‘like that’ for recognition...We are still in discussions though, this is not over...We are convening with the Mayor Duckett and community leaders on Friday at Identity Inc. to discuss some kind of compromise, so there’s hope.” According to Schildmeyer, Identity Inc. located at 204 Main Street in Farmington is the only brick and mortar LGBTQ community center in the state.

Mayor Snover presented the Aztec Pride Month Proclamation at Tuesday’s meeting, in a statement Snover said that, “Many of the residents, students and business owners that contribute to the enrichment of our city are part of the LGBTQ community.” Snover went on to say that a disproportionate number of American LGBTQ youth are homeless or ultimately commit suicide. According to Snover, “It’s important that cities like Aztec stand-up and show support for our residents who are affected...June has become a month symbolic to lesbian women, gay men, bi-sexual and trans gender persons and their supporters who come together in various celebrations of pride. There fore, we of the Aztec City of Aztec Commission have come together to proclaim June as LGBTQ Pride Month in the City of Aztec and we invite everyone to reflect on ways we can all live and work together with a commitment to mutual respect and understanding.”

Despite the words of solidarity two of the five city commissioners declined to be included in the group picture of the Proclamation Presentation. Commissioner Sherri Sipe commented to TALON, “Whatever people do, whatever their lifestyle choice, is between them and God. I’m not here to jugde, it’s just simply not my belief. I did not feel I should be in the picture, their beliefs should not be forced on me or anyone else...I have many very dear friends that are gay and lesbian, and I will always love them, but it is just not my belief.”

Commissioner Austin Randall also declined to be photographed. As of press time Randall has not returned any of TALON’s calls for comment.

Commissioner Mark Lewis spearheaded the Pride Proclamation said, “It’s important for our city to recognize Aztec’s LGBTQ residents and hey, there are probably city employees that are members of the LGBTQ community, who knows? The fact is, LGBTQ people have been marginalized and ignored by society for the most part and this needs to change.” Lewis has no allusions about how the Proclamation might be received, given the conservative leanings of the community saying, “Some positive feedback would be great, but I get that we might not get that, and that’s okay, I have broad shoulders.” Lewis wanted to thank the members of the Farmington Pride movement for all their hard work in putting together the parade. The Farmington LGBTQ Pride parade will be Saturday, June 16 at 11 a.m. Participants will assemble at 10 a.m. at Lake Street and W.Main and march from Church’s Chicken to Kentucky Fried Chicken on Butler.

 

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