Connect with us

6 Years After Debate Led To Gay Teen’s Suicide, Oklahoma Town Approves LGBT Resolution

Published

on

With Zack Harrington’s Parents Looking On, Norman City Council Votes Unanimously To Designate October As LGBT History Month

Six years ago Wednesday, 19-year-old Zack Harrington attended a City Council meeting in Norman, Oklahoma, that became the scene of what was later described as a “toxic” debate over a proposed proclamation designating October as LGBT History Month. 

One week later, Harrington took his own life, with his family later speculating that his internalization of negative comments from the meeting may have pushed him over the edge. 

Harrington’s death — which took place amid a rash of suicides by LGBT people nationwide — inspired Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns’ viral “It Gets Better” speech, as well as a documentary about the gay teen’s life, “Broken Heart Land.”

On Tuesday, for the first time since Harrington’s death, the Norman City Council again considered an LGBT History Month proclamation — with Zack’s parents, Nancy and Van, in attendance.

This time, however, there was no debate, and the council approved the proclamation unanimously, with the mayor choking back tears as she read it. 

“He endured so much hate and bigotry and he heard so much at the meeting six years ago and we didn’t want to hear that again,” Van Harrington told News 9 after the meeting. “We spontaneously just jumped up and started cheering and clapping because it was a great relief. … It was a happy and sad feeling for me. The happy that we stuck it out and we’re going forward. Sad that this sort of thing didn’t happen earlier and that maybe we would have Zack. But who knows.” 

CNHI Oklahoma reports that history threatened to repeat itself prior to Tuesday’s meeting, with anger over the proclamation simmering on social media.

“I fielded a lot of heat, hate and even threats after I introduced the 2010 resolution,” Human Rights Commission member Michael Ridgeway wrote on Facebook. “I hope the discussion this time can be loving and kind, even among those who disagree.”

Councilman Robert Castleberry made a motion to allow public comment on the proclamation prior to the vote, even though the council doesn’t normally do so. 

“I look forward to actually hearing some comments and hopefully we can learn from it,” Castleberry said.

Castleberry was the only one who voted in favor of the motion, which was defeated 7-1. Councilwoman Breea Clark condemned the motion, saying it would allow targeting of LGBT people. 

“For those that refuse to recognize this history, know that history will in fact recognize what’s happening here today,” Clark said. “And I have a problem with what one of my fellow councilmen is trying to do tonight, opening the door to hate speech under the guise of freedom of speech.” 

Two people spoke against the proclamation during public comments at the end of the meeting. However, hundreds of supporters of the proclamation flooded the meeting wearing red, with several speaking in favor of it. 

“I’ve never been in city council chambers where I felt so much unity and so much love,” said Cindy Cason, a member of Mothers of Many, a group for LGBT youth. “This is the best of Norman.”

https://vimeo.com/94910811 

Image via Broken Heart Land on Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

'ANGRY AND APPALLED'

Former Trump Defense Secretary Mattis Breaks Silence – Scorches Ex-Boss – Stands Up for Protestors in Scathing Statement

Published

on

Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general who served in the military from 1969 to 2013, has finally broken his long silence. In a scathing rebuke far more devastating than any delivered by any former Trump official (except his resignation letter), Mattis denounces Trump for violating the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, and stands up for the protestors.

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try,” Mattis says, as The Atlantic reports.

“Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”

He goes on to contrast the American ethos of unity with Nazi ideology. “Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that ‘The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was “Divide and Conquer.” Our American answer is “In Union there is Strength.”’ We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.”

Mattis makes clear he is disgusted with how Trump has handled the protests across the nation – and that he supports the protestors.

“I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”

He doesn’t stop there.

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”

Read The Atlantic’s full report, or Mattis’ full statement at CNN.

Continue Reading

WHAT LEADERSHIP LOOKS LIKE

‘Showing Off With These Complete Sentences’: Internet Rejoices as ‘Real President’ Obama Speaks – ‘I Miss Him’

Published

on

Former President Barack Obama delivered forward-looking, encouraging remarks in response to the police killing of George Floyd and the ongoing nationwide protests, and the Internet rejoiced. President Obama’s comments, part of a town hall organized by his My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, were focused for his younger audience, and were short and seemingly off-the-cuff, yet inspired a nation thirsting for caring, intelligence, and leadership.

Take a look.

 

Continue Reading

FASCISM

The Pentagon Announced It Was Pulling Hundreds of Troops Out of DC. The Defense Secretary Just Canceled That Order.

Published

on

It took Secretary of Defense Mark Esper just two hours to countermand a decision the Pentagon had announced, that it was pulling hundreds of active-duty troops out of Washington, D.C.

“Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press that the reversal came after Esper attended a meeting at the White House, and after other internal Pentagon discussions,” the AP reports. “It is unclear if Esper met with President Donald Trump. McCarthy said he believes the change was based on ensuring there is enough military support in the region to respond to any protest problems if needed.”

Secretary Esper surprised many Wednesday morning when he announced at a hastily-called press conference he disagrees with invoking The Insurrection Act to deploy U.S. troops to cities across the nation to, as President Donald Trump has said, “quell” protestors. President Trump fully supports invoking the law, and has already heavily militarized D.C.

In more than 140 cities Americans have been protesting the police killing of an unarmed, handcuffed Black man, George Floyd, now for nine days and nights.

President Donald Trump has demanded mayors and governors “dominate” the protestors, and has posted threatening tweets advocating his position against the protestors.

About one hour ago several large military vehicles were deployed to the area in front of St. John’s Church, where President Trump held his Bible photo-op on Monday.

Image: DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee
Photo via Flickr and a
CC license

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.