City councilor calls Pride Month 'discriminatory,' sparking uproar
Recently-elected councilor Mike McBride caused a stir at the June 7 Newberg City Council meeting after he refused to support the city's proclamation celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month.
In comments voiced immediately after a local LGBTQ winemaker spoke about her efforts with Wine Country Pride, McBride called the Pride Month proclamation "discriminatory" without naming who he believed was being discriminated against.
McBride's comments prompted a swift rebuttal from Mayor Rick Rogers, who expressed his support for the LGBTQ community, followed by widespread condemnation from fellow councilors and community members in the days following the meeting.
Despite the uproar, McBride said on June 15 that his opinion on the matter remains unchanged.
"I don't think we ought to lift one group up over another," McBride said. "I think that's discrimination. I don't think the city needs to be a politically correct atmosphere. We've got enough problems that we need to be working on without getting into this politically correct stuff.
"Why don't we celebrate Christian Heritage Month? Our country was founded on Christian principles and our city and college was founded on Christian principles. Let's have a German heritage month while we're at it. This political correctness is just ridiculous."
McBride also expressed frustration that councilors didn't get a chance to vote on the proclamation, despite the fact that during the meeting the attorney contracted by the city, James Walker, explained to him that proclamations don't require a vote.
Fellow councilors appeared stunned during the meeting and some voiced their agreement with Rogers. Further condemnation of McBride's comments emerged as the community began to react. District 1 councilor Elise Yarnell Hollamon said McBride's comments go against the council's priority of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.
"I was taken aback by his comments," she said. "I think there is absolutely room for differing opinions on city policy concerns, but when it comes to divisive rhetoric that could make marginalized groups in our community feel unsafe, there is no room for that. I was really grateful that Mayor Rogers spoke up and took a moment to address it.
"I think that Christian, White, Anglo-Saxon people are affirmed enough in our culture. I don't think a proclamation for those groups is needed in the way it's needed for more marginalized communities. As a White Christian myself, I do not need a month to celebrate me."
Yarnell Hollamon called on McBride to make a public apology to the LGBTQ community for what she characterized as hate speech. District 6 councilor Stephanie Findley penned a letter to McBride urging him to reflect on the impact of his words, which she shared with the public on her Facebook page.
Remy Drabkin of Remy Wines, the organizer of Wine Country Pride and herself a member of the LGBTQ community, responded to what she characterized as McBride's "homophobia" in a Facebook post. She was the guest speaker at the council meeting before McBride's initial comments.
"He did not have to do this," Drabkin said. "It was not up for a vote. He went out of his way to 'go on record' as against it. I would consider this bullying. He wanted to make the queer community feel unwelcome and unwanted.
"His remarks (that) 'it's discriminatory' to recognize pride is one of the current favorite dog whistles being used against LGBTQ+ rights. It works because it isn't that offensive to some other straight folks while signaling to likeminded bigots that they are OK in their bigotry. This narrative is the reason a small group of white supremacists started 'straight pride' in Boston a couple years back … The future of Newberg is not bigotry."
McBride said he doesn't care about the backlash to his comments. Community members, meanwhile, are sending him emails after the Facebook page "Progressive Yamhill" shared a video of his comments along with his public email address.
"We're still America, the land of the free," McBride said. "I have my own viewpoint and other people have theirs. Rick and others are entitled to their point of view, just like I'm entitled to my point of view. Unfortunately, these days, if you have a different point of view from someone else, they will try and crucify you.
"I don't care if someone says I'm discriminatory. That's OK. That's your point of view."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.