As a faith-based non-profit here in the city of Westerville, we want to respond to the recent discussions that have taken place between the LGBTQ+ community & the Westerville City Council. After several weeks of conversations between the LGBTQ+ community and city officials, the Westerville City Council met on the evening of June 15th to discuss a petition to fly the Pride flag at City Hall in honor of Pride month this June. During the course of the meeting, many people, LGBTQ+ and otherwise, shared heartfelt and moving testimony about the impact that flying the flag would have on the city's LGBTQ+ community.
To each person who came and shared their stories and testimonies in support of the LGBTQ+ community during the meeting: Thank you. Your voice matters and deserves to be heard and recognized by your community. Your words were impactful and beautiful displays of God's heart for all people to be seen and loved.
As part of the discussion, LOVEboldly's Founder, Heidi Weaver-Smith, shared these words in support of the resolution: "Flying a Pride flag in Westerville demonstrates to those who happen to be LGBTQ+ that we see them as important and valued members of our community. Flying a Pride flag demonstrates that we as a community think that all people are worthy of respect and celebration simply for being our fellow humans, made in the image of God and so holding sacred worth. We love Westerville and we want to see it at its best. Westerville, at its best, flies the Pride flag."
Ultimately, the City Council voted no on the resolution.
As an organization, we want to acknowledge the hurt and grief that this decision has caused many LGBTQ+ people in our community and those serving on the Westerville Queer Collective. We mourn with you as we recognize the pain that many LGBTQ+ people carry as the result of a long history of feeling unseen, unwanted and unvalued. We echo the words of our founder in saying that we believe all people are made in the image of God and worthy of being seen and celebrated. We stand against the dismissive and defensive attitudes displayed by some of the members of the City council toward the LGBTQ+ community.
Though the results of the meeting were not what many in the community hoped for, your efforts and voices matter. As an organization, we commit to continuing to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community here in our city as we work to see all people treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve as people created & loved by God.
In solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community,