By Shereen Siewert
After a spirited discussion Tuesday members of the Marathon County Board of Supervisors approved a proposal to declare June ‘Pride Month,’ to recognize the rights of all citizens in Marathon County regardless of age, gender identity, race, color, religion, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical challenges.
An estimated 3.8 percent of the population identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ community, according to demographic studies.
Early in the meeting Chair Kurt Gibbs put forward a substitute resolution that would have instead declared June as “Diversity and Inclusivity” month, with terminology that did not mention the LGBTQ community. Dist. 6 Supervisor Jeff Johnson questioned whether the substitute was appropriate, saying that the alternate wording changed the entire meaning of the resolution. Additionally, Johnson pointed to resolutions previously approved by the board that recognized other minorities and marginalized groups without controversy, such as the Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution that passed in May.
“Everyone knows what’s behind this,” Johnson said. “Nobody wants to say, we don’t want to recognize ‘those folks.’ But let’s be honest. That’s what we’re talking about here.”
‘Pride Month’ is nothing new, Johnson said. The Republican Legislature in Wisconsin passed a similar resolution last week. Johnson said the entire discussion and surrounding controversy focused on attitudes that show Marathon County is not a welcoming community, attitudes that will harm the community and prevent it from moving forward.
Ka Lo, Dist. 5 Supervisor, agreed with Johnson and said the reworded resolution was not appropriate because the ‘Pride Month’ resolution went through two committees before being presented to the council.
Gibbs’ substitute resolution was defeated by a vote of 19-16, with three supervisors absent. Another motion to send the resolution back to the Diversity Affairs Commission was overwhelmingly rejected.
The original ‘Pride Month’ resolution passed by a vote of 20-15.