Valdosta Mayor Refuses to Endorse LGBT Pride Festival

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- Valdosta, Ga. - July 25, 2012 -

A local organization supporting rights for gay, lesbian and transgender citizens is speaking out against Valdosta City Hall.

One of the top members of "South Georgia Pride" called Eyewitness News reporter Greg Gullberg shortly after leaving the mayor's office Wednesday morning. She had requested a proclamation for their upcoming festival. But as she says in this Exclusive Interview, the mayor denied their request.

"It made me feel like I did not matter to the City of Valdosta. That I was not a part of anything," said Raynae Williams, Assistant Executive Director of South Georgia Pride.

They are planning their annual Festival this September. She wanted a mayoral proclamation to recognize the event.

"Our organization is working to educate people on tolerance and against bullying and hate crimes," Williams said.

But Valdosta Mayor John Gayle stands against homosexuality.

"I just don't approve of that life style. It goes against what I believe in and if I sign that proclamation then I'm endorsing that. And I can't do that," said Mayor Gayle.

Mayor Gayle says he is holding true to his roots as a traditional Southern Baptist. And his constituents knew his view points when he was elected. But he takes no issue with the festival it self, he just will not endorse it.

Despite some hard feelings, the South Georgia Pride Festival is still planned for September 15th.

"I was kind of shocked when I asked how many proclamations have been denied. We are the only one," said Williams.

Last year the South Georgia Pride Festival did get a proclamation from City Hall. That was with Mayor John Fretti, shortly before he was ousted for other reasons.