Virginia Gurrola saw her tenure as mayor of the city of Porterville come to an end this week after she clashed with city council over the establishment of a LGBT Pride Month.
The issue began in June, when Mayor Gurrola was asked to present a proclamation making June LGBT Pride month in the city. She approved it, and almost immediately members of city council objected.
A few weeks later, members of council voted to rescind the mayor's proclamation.
The issue drew an angry reaction against Virginia Gurrola.
Local blogger Jim Reeves described the aftermath:
"Public comment during the meetings included a lot of vitriol directed at Mayor Gurrola by the religious community, with at least two speakers calling for the Biblical punishment for homosexuality – that homosexuals are 'worthy of death.' A few screamed at the Mayor while waving Bibles in the air. Speaker after speaker rose to condemn the LGBT community, spouting falsehood after lie after endlessly disproven statistic and other made up nonsense."
But city council members didn't want it to end there. Councilman Brian Ward introduced a proposal to strip council member Virginia Gurrola of her position as mayor (which in Porterville is a largely ceremonial title).
This week the council followed through with the plan, voting Virgina Gurrola and Vice Mayor Pete McCracken out of their positions. In their place are new Mayor Cameron Hamilton and Vice Mayor Brian Ward, both of whom voted to overturn the LGBT Pride Month declaration.
The problems in Porterville actually stretch back a few years. In 2008, Councilman Ward introduced a resolution supporting the passage of Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage. The vote passed unanimously, and Porterville became the only government body to officially support the controversial measure.
Ward, who works as a school psychologist in the Burton School District, has objected to other gay rights issues that have come before the council, blogger Jim Reeves noted.
Though she may have lost her title as Porterville mayor after declaring June as LGBT Pride Month, Virginia Gurrola has earned support across the globe. Many LGBT activists have spoken up in support of her and sympathetic communities are painting her as a hero.