Monday, July 20, 2009

Controversy in Milwaukee over Gay Pride Display at Post Office

According to this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a gay pride display was approved for exhibit at the downtown Milwaukee post office. Maggi Cage, executive director of the Milwaukee Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center, helped set up the display and was thrilled to tell the members of the community center to go check out the display. Hardly anyone had a chance to do so, however.

The display was taken down approximately four hours after it was put up on June 1, the first day of gay pride month. Marge Oehlke, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service in the Milwaukee area, said she removed the material because it "did not fit our qualifications." Local GLBT activists disagree. "I think it's plain and simple homophobia," Cage said. "I really do think it's a case of discrimination."

The idea for the display was spearheaded by Dale Schuster, former chairman of the post office's diversity team and founder of the Kenosha/Racine PFLAG chapter. He resigned his position on the diversity team, saying that "In light of the controversy over the pride month display being taken down, I had no other recourse than to resign. I believe it is important that everybody is treated with dignity and respect, and that nobody should feel excluded."

Despite what happened at the post office, GLBT people in Milwaukee can count on the support of Mayor Tom Barrett, who is a friend to the community and a supporter of the post office display. In fact, he has welcomed the display at City Hall. We encourage everyone to take a minute and say thank you to Mayor Barrett. He can be reached at mayor@milwaukee.gov or (414) 286-3191. You may also send a note to:

Office of the Mayor
200 E. Wells Street
City Hall Room 201
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Please stay tuned for more developments!

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