ROWLETT, TX (CBSDFW.COM) – The text in recognition of the month of pride in the city of Rowlett, Texas, is provoking controversy after several local pastors spoke out against the decision. Council members are now debating not only whether the celebration should be celebrated, but how similar decisions should be made in the future.
“I am very excited and delighted to be able to make this declaration tonight,” said Mayor Tammy Dana-Bashian, officially declaring June Pride Month at Rowlett for the first time during the city’s first June meeting.
At least three pastors who heard about the declaration’s plans attended the meeting to speak out against the decision.
“The city does not need to encourage morality that is at odds with God and His Word,” said Pastor Cole Hedgecock, the first Baptist Rowlett. “… using our taxpayer dollars, our public property to celebrate someone’s sexual preference and the socially different lifestyle they choose,” said Pastor Kason of Huddleston Freedom Place Church, describing the gesture.
Even the opening prayer of the meeting seemed to express opposition. “Man and woman, you have created them,” said Pastor Brian Hiatt of Cornerstone Church and asked for God’s influence on council members.
Three members of the Council have taken a position on the declaration. In emails sent online, council members Martha Brown, Brownie Sherrill and Pam Bell expressed their disappointment. Brown specifically confirmed his opposition to KTVT-TV, saying the declarations have not traditionally been used to identify “controversial” events.
City records show that Brown, Sherrill and Bell requested that an item be included on Tuesday’s agenda to discuss how decisions on declarations will be made and how to decide whether to light the city’s water tower in honor of the holiday.
According to Brown, in the future, they would like decisions to be made by the council, not the mayor alone.
“The Council is considering the creation of a new policy that requires the prior approval of a majority of the Council before declarations can be made,” reads Brown’s statement. “This prior approval will also be considered in the lighting of our water tower to support, promote or celebrate holidays, events, etc. I support this new policy, as these recognitions should be decided in the same way as all our decisions by the Council by majority vote.”
According to the agenda, all votes on the matter should be taken at a later meeting. “It lit a fire in me. It hurt me. It hurt me. It broke my heart, ”said Myranda Congi, who lives in the city and is a member of the LGBTQ community.
He has urged residents to gather in response and wants the city to light its water tower with a rainbow, which the city leader admits he intends to do. “It’s more than just lights. It means the LGBT community is safe here, we’re welcome here,” Congi said.
His social media post on the Rowlett residents ’Facebook page received more than 500 comments. “Obviously, some back and forth with opposing views, but about the first 100 comments were nothing more than support, and it really touched my heart … and I know… I know the LGBT community is really wanted here,” Congi said.
More than 400 people have also signed a petition calling for the water tower to be lit for Pride Month. Mayor Brian Funderburk blames a mechanical flaw that the tower will flash in random colors on June 1, the first night the rainbow was scheduled to show. By the time the matter was resolved days later, Funderburk said it had decided to stop lighting the towers until the opposition could be addressed at Tuesday’s meeting.
“We didn’t try to speak against anyone. We tried to speak up for biblical values, ”said Pastor Hedgecock. He said his goal was just to make sure those who disagreed with the declaration made their voices heard.
If the council decided to celebrate PRIDE, he said he was not angry. “It’s in the city council. I’ve done my part. I’m not going to be mad at the city council, ”Hedgecock said.
Congi says she knows exactly what it feels like to become known as a city landmark. “It’s going to bring a huge smile to my face. I know it and I can’t wait to see it,” he said.