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Valpo City Council passes Pride Month resolution, following persuasion from human relations council

Valparaiso Now Facebook page

The Valparaiso City Council is recognizing June as Pride Month. The council passed the resolution by a vote of six-to-one Monday, after some persuasion from the advisory human relations council.

Human Relations Council President Alison Quackenbush said resolutions like this can have gradual — but significant — impacts at the local level, including when it comes to economic development. "In the absence of resolutions such as tonight, corporations, too, may choose to invest or relocate in other municipalities," Quackenbush told the city council. "High-tech enterprises will not even give our ZIP code a look without such programming in place."

Quackenbush also tried to tie it in with the council's support for public safety. She noted that Police Chief Andrew McIntire and his predecessor, current Porter County Sheriff Jeff Balon, have tried to make their department more supportive of LGBTQ+ officers.

"What individual examples of bravery," Quackenbush said. "Don't we need to support them in their ongoing leadership? An LGBTQ+ open police force positions our community for greater safety, as they do respond to incidents where members of the community are being harassed and physically bullied."

She noted that LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to experience violence, LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to attempt suicide, and local residents have experienced discrimination.

Still, council member Jack Pupillo voted against the resolution. He worried about venturing into social and cultural issues instead of focusing on local government.

"Are we to address every cultural/social issue we hear on the national news?" Pupillo asked. "Shall we discuss each national issue as it arises, such as the border crisis or the city of Chicago's vote on the Israel-Gaza conflict?"

The council's other Republican, Peter Anderson, said he was hesitant about telling residents what to celebrate, but he ultimately voted in favor.

PFLAG Valparaiso President Deb Porter thanked council members for the Pride Month designation, saying it would make a difference in the community. "What it means for our community for you to pass this resolution tonight you may not know, but there were many of us who were moved to tears — seriously," Porter said.

She said her organization has a series of events planned in June aimed at bridging the gaps in the community.

Michael Gallenberger is a news reporter and producer that hosts All Things Considered on 89.1 FM | Lakeshore Public Media.