Donna Schmitt is the mayor of Columbia Heights, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis with approximately 20,000 residents.
She’s facing criticism from constituents after she refused to sign a proclamation supporting the city’s upcoming Pride festival, which is scheduled to happen this weekend.
But there’s more to the story than just that.
In her refusal to do so, Schmitt cited new guidelines that were put into place after LGBTQ groups initially contacted her about signing the proclamation.
According to local station FOX9, organizers from the Columbia Heights Pride Organization reached out to the mayor’s office several weeks ago to ask if she would sign a proclamation officially recognizing this Saturday as LGBTQ Awareness Day in Columbia Heights.
Their emails and phone calls went unanswered until last week when Schmitt finally agreed to meet with them only to say they hadn’t followed the appropriate guidelines for getting a proclamation and, therefore, she could not abide by their request.
But here’s the thing: The guidelines Schmitt cited didn’t exist when organizers first contacted her about the proclamation weeks earlier. They were created the same week she agreed to meet with them, after she had been blowing them off for weeks.
“It is not about a group, it’s about, let’s follow the guidelines,” Schmitt told local station ABC5. “They can go out and celebrate, they are more than welcome to rent our parks and have a family friendly event, as they have requested.”
During a town hall meeting held on Monday, Schmitt told organizers, “You do not need a piece of paper from me to do this.”
“Nowhere does it state or has been implied that I’m against individuals in the LGBTQ community. We have denied three other proclamations in the last couple of months.”
As tensions in the room built, Schmitt slammed her gavel on the table and scolded: “I will be asking some of you to leave if you do not stop!”
Speaking to local media after the meeting, she confirmed the new guidelines were put in place after LGBTQ organizers contacted her but insisted it was not motivated by antigay animus, saying, “I just hope they realize, they don’t represent everyone in the city either.”