Across the U.S., pro-LGBTQ candidates made a rainbow wave toward public office.
Despite such landmark historical moments for the broader LGBTQ community, the fight for LGBTQ recognition continues in the small suburban city of Montclair. While it is important to stay engaged with the broader social challenges that LGBTQ folks continue to face, we must also remain attuned to local issues.
When we are not attuned, the consequence is — well, you will see.
When we do not acknowledge the lives of LGBTQ folks, not only do their concerns go unnoticed, but their livelihoods are also threatened.
City Councilman Ben Lopez
Such a threat is reflected in the recent election of Ben Lopez to the Montclair City Council. Lopez is a staunch, anti-LGBTQ candidate who has spent a long-career touting anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and advocating some of the most anti-LGBTQ views, laws, and policies.
Montclair residents will speak out against city councilman-elect Ben Lopez during Monday’s city council meeting at 7 p.m. Lopez is scheduled to be installed as a new councilman on December 11.
“The election of Ben Lopez is not only heartbreaking but terrifying,” said Karlie Baker, a long-time Montclair resident. “With his anti-LGBTQ beliefs on the city council, and in today’s polarizing political culture, more of Montclair’s youth will continue to face threats against their personhood.”
In 2009, after the passing of California Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage, Lopez testified against same-sex marriage to the California State Legislature.
In 2011, he returned to the California State Capitol to testify against Senate Bill 48 that added LGBTQ history curriculums in public school, arguing that “there’s only one way you can present these (LGBTQ) lifestyles and that is as desirable. This bill is blatant promotion (of LGBTQ lifestyles) at its best. With that, we are against the bill.”
Lopez has spent 12 years actively trying to influence California policymakers and affect laws that would result in discriminatory and harmful treatments toward LGBTQ people.
However, Montclair can still change the course that the city has now taken with the election of Ben Lopez. The community can still ensure that future generations of Montclair LGBTQ residents never have to endure what previous generations experienced. How?
It requires us to actively engage with local issues with an open mind and an open heart. It requires us to show up and stand in support of LGBTQ residents who are often political targets by people such as Ben Lopez.
It requires that we actively hold our elected officials accountable when they support policies that inflict pain and harm and fail to support their residents.