BG City Council blocks mayor’s Pride Month Proclamation in minority vote


Clark County activists packed the Battle Ground City Council chambers as some expressed their support and others opposed Mayor Troy McCoy’s Pride Month Proclamation last week.

Three city council members removed the proclamation from the meeting in a minority vote. Despite the outcome, McCoy read the proclamation aloud during council deliberations before its removal.

The council’s 3-4 vote to remove the proclamation, called by Councilor Eric Overholser, spurred an uproar in the crowd. Overholser and councilors Victoria Ferrer and Tricia Davis removed the proclamation from the agenda as three votes were required for its removal despite being a minority vote. McCoy and councilors Cherish DesRochers, Shane Bowman and Adrian Cortes voted against its removal.

The three who voted to remove the proclamation said the proclamation should be removed for being controversial. Ferrer and Overholser asked Battle Ground Pride’s Jessica Cole, who wrote the proclamation draft, to replace “LGBTQ” with “all” before it was put on the meeting’s agenda.

“The proclamation should say ‘all’ Battle Ground citizens, not a certain group ... If I see you on the streets, we are all God’s people. We all have a say in his eyes,” Davis said during the discussion.

Ferrer stated that she engaged in discussions with the author of the proclamation to make it “inclusive” and said, after extensive deliberation, they did not reach a consensus. Cole shared a different story during public comments. Cole said Ferrer’s desire to include “all” in the community meant removing “LGBTQ” from the proclamation.

You were not upfront with me. You waited until the end of the conversation to bring [your grievance] up,” Cole said. “I had my hopes up high to do a unity [proclamation]. When I also said I wanted to do a Pride proclamation with ‘LGBTQ’ and ‘community’ in it, you dropped me like a hot potato.”

McCoy mentioned that the proclamation, in solidarity with Pride Month, included the words “all citizens, including the LGBTQ community,” in writing. He directly opposed Overholser’s stance on the proclamation being controversial.

“You look to your right and left, you’re seeing somebody at some point, if they weren’t a white male landowner, they were controversial. It was controversial for women to vote. It was controversial for blacks to ride the wrong part of the bus. You’re on the wrong side of this,” McCoy said to Overholser.

McCoy read the proclamation out loud as he discussed the wording of the document. Bowman, who voted to keep the proclamation, said the three opposing council members proved a double standard in their reasoning.

“If we want proclamations for everybody and everyone needs to get a ribbon to go home, then good we’ll give you one. But proclamations are for organizations. When we do a national women’s month [proclamation], you just lost half the room … That’s just a cop-out to say, ‘Well, it doesn’t include everybody’ because a proclamation isn’t going to include everybody,” Bowman said.

Bowman stated that in his 12 years on the City Council, he had never witnessed such a large gathering at a council meeting, and it was disheartening that the crowd consisted of anti-LGBTQ+ protesters. Cortes suggested one of the council members may have organized the large crowd to attend proceedings. Cortes said after the meeting, he received an email strongly accusing Ferrer of asking a local school board member to write a letter to oppose the proclamation.

“Quite frankly, when I was mayor… we did the same proclamation, and none of you were here. I’d like to know if anybody here on council has organized a lot of you to come here … The only thing divisive about this proclamation are the people pushing to kill it. They are the ones that are offended. If you’re offended by recognizing historically marginalized groups of our citizens in this community, I suggest you seek therapy,” Cortes said to the gatherers.

The crowd descended into chaos after the 3-4 vote blocked the Pride Month proclamation. A dozen right-wing activists chanted the Lord’s Prayer as one pro-LGBTQ+ activist cried “Where’s the separation of church and state?” Battle Ground Police Chief Dennis Flynn placed himself between two opposing activists to prevent a confrontation.

DesRochers walked out of the meeting shortly before a recess was called before returning for regular City Council proceedings. She told The Reflector she was shocked by the hateful emails she and other council members received from right-wing activists. She said ]council members received half as many supporting emails thanking them for recognizing the LGBTQ+ community.

“It really hurts me to see firsthand what the [LGBTQ+] community goes through on a day-to-day basis. I really am shaken,” DesRochers said. “... It’s a minority [vote], so obviously the majority agrees with it. I personally want everyone to feel safe and welcome and to know that they belong in our community.”

Activists from across the County spoke against and in support of the LGBTQ+ community during public comments for over 30 minutes, with speeches kept at 1 minute per speaker.