It’s a long-awaited milestone for some people.
“LGBT individuals have suffered a lot of discrimination over decades, centuries and I think this is a great statement,” said Peter Valloen of Vista, California.
“For many years, straight people have been talking. They’ve had their needs met, now it’s time for LGBT people to have their needs met, and I’m sure some of their needs are the same as our needs,” said Lisa Heth, a South Dakota resident.
Lisa Middleton and Christy Holstege were sworn-in Wednesday night, taking the place of long-time Palm Springs city councilmembers Ginny Foat and Chris Mills. With the addition of Holstege and Middleton, Palm Springs City Council is now the first ever all LGBT City Council in the country.
Middleton is the first ever transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California, while Holstege identifies as a bisexual.
“We knew in this town and in this place, we would be welcome and also like many of our neighbors, we knew and we will never forget what it was like to not be welcome,” Middleton said.
“I’m incredibly proud that we’ve doubled our representation of women this year and I hope we never go back to a council that only had one woman,” Holstege said.
Kate Castle, a member of the Human Rights Campaign, noticed several barriers that the two candidates had to overcome during the election.
“One of the things I noticed, was there was quite a bit of misogyny displayed on social media and I was really surprised at the people who posted that stuff because they were gay men,” Castle said. For them to turn around and dismiss someone who is a woman in those terms. I was surprised and disappointed and saddened. It’s not necessary, we can work and vote on people who are qualified.”
Something long-time LGBT advocate, Roger Tansey stands by.
“I certainly didn’t vote on anyone because of their status. I voted for people who were most qualified and they happen to be part of that community,” Tansey said.
But for some, the council is not diverse enough.
“I think more views should be expressed or open in the council. With not just one group. Not all heterosexual and not all LGBT groups,” Pauline Elliott of Desert Edge said. We need to have a variety of everyone on council so everyone’s needs and opinions can be expressed and accounted for.”