City aims to shed homophobic image
It seems some of Colorado Springs’ residents have had enough of the city’s anti-gay reputation.
The city of nearly 2 million people is the second-largest in Colorado and home to several military bases, the Air Force Academy and Cheyenne Mountain, where NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defence Command, is based.
It is also noted for the concentration of religious groups such as Focus On The Family.
At one time Colorado Springs was the national headquarters for 81 different religious organisations, earning the city the nickname “the Evangelical Vatican.”
That homophoic image became especially apparent last month when a debate erupted over whether or not the city’s council should waive some fees in support of a cultural festival the city’s Diversity Forum is planning to hold in August.
According to an article in the Colorado Springs Independent, some city officials objected to the routine request because the event will include gay and lesbian groups.
When Diversity Forum representatives first approached the city earlier this year, council member Darryl Glenn reportedly said:
“I’ll be blunt. What I see happening is an expansion of the definition of marriage. And a display of an event like that, that’s a political issue.”
Two of Glenn’s colleagues on the council, Margaret Radford and Tom Gallagher, expressed similar discomfort the event.
“When a large portion of this community does not support gay and lesbian viewpoints, I don’t see us putting tax dollars into supporting that direction,” said Radford, according to the Colorado Springs Business Journal.
For Jay Patel, a member of the Diversity Forum, the situation acted as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
“We thought, ‘Enough is enough,”‘ Patel told the Denver Post, “and members of our group showed up in force.”
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That apparently did the trick, as the council eventually voted unanimously to support the diversity fair, though not before some of them expressed “reservations about certain people who might want to ‘advance their agenda,'” according to the Post.
That change of heart was a hopeful sign of things to come for Patel and other members of the Diversity Forum, though it seems some of the city’s business leaders believe a more thorough turnaround on the part of the City Council is going to be needed for Colorado Springs’ image to be fully rehabilitated.
“This kind of crap makes news nationally, just because it happens in Colorado Springs,” one wary business owner told the Business Journal.
“And don’t think that companies who might want to relocate or people who might want to move here and start a company don’t hear about it.”
“I have to apologise for Colorado Springs every day,” another business owner added. “We have such an awful national image.”
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