Division And Insults Mar Solemn Proclamation

Chip Ross Reads the Transgender Proclamation

By Mike Lednovich

What was intended as a solemn city commission proclamation honoring transgender victims who were murdered because of their gender identity instead was marred by Commissioner Darron Ayscue denouncing the reading of the statement.

That sparked supporters bellowing insults of “Bigot!” “What are you afraid of?” and “Shame on you!”

The emotionally charged reading brought to a head weeks of tension between Mayor Bradley Bean and Fernandina Beach Pride. Bean had previously said he would not read the proclamation at Tuesday’s city commission meeting. That resulted in days of backlash from Pride President Jordan Morris and the organization’s supporters.

Commissioner Chip Ross stepped up at the eleventh hour to read the Transgender Day of Remembrance Proclamation, which began uneasily with Mayor Bean stating, “Now Commissioner Ross will read his proclamation.”

The comment drew a quick rebuke from Ross who shot back, “This is the city commission’s proclamation.”

Standing behind the lecturn, Ross was soon enveloped by a swarm of 50 Pride members and supporters as he read the proclamation.

After a written statement read by Pride’s Morris, Ayscue began speaking as the supporters began disassembling.

“I will not support this proclamation. I believe this proclamation silences, out of fear, part of our community who is going to be labeled transphobic because they speak out on this proclamation,” Ayscue said. “This proclamation also instills fear of a cancel culture. And, for those individuals who are scared to speak up, and many of them have spoken to me, I’m using my voice to speak for them.”

Ayscue’s statement drew an immediate chorus of howls from the supporters, leading Mayor Bean to recess the meeting until the supporters had left the room.

“I regret there is some drama on the third reading (before the city commission) of this proclamation, and it’s overshadowed why we’re really here tonight,” Morris said after Ross had finished the proclamation. “Here in 2023, the transgender community is under attack, especially here in Florida, where they are villainized by legislation that prevents them from full participation in the society.”

Morris cited statistics that one percent of the U.S. population is transgender.

“Think about that. One percent of the island’s population is about 300 to 400 people,” he said. “That’s 300 to 400 taxpayers. That’s 300 to 400 voters. Basically a medium-sized neighborhood full of people who are brothers, sisters, son and daughters who are active contributors to society. It so happens they tend to be murdered at a much higher rate then the general population. That’s why we’re here.”

Before rejecting reading the proclamation, Bean approached Morris Monday afternoon with alternative versions of the document.

One version of Bean’s draft proclamation removed all mention of the word transgender and proclaimed “Crime Victims Week.” The other version was identical except for proclaiming the week “Transgender Day of Remembrance.”

Morris said of Bean’s drafts, “The mayor’s draft proclamation eviscerated the intent and meaning of Transgender Day of Remembrance. The draft language was more about anti-violence in general. There was not one mention of violence against transgender people, and I was very concerned with that. The draft was unacceptable, and I told the mayor this isn’t going to work.”

Bean then told Morris he was rejecting reading the proclamation.

Bean’s stance sent city staff scurrying to determine the proper procedure for another city commissioner to read into the city record a proclamation that was not signed by the mayor. That resulted in the first time in recent history that a city commissioner affixed his signature to a city proclamation to make it official.

Pride members and supporters stood in the darkness outside city hall after the recess, mostly stunned by what had transpired.

“It’s 2023, and I can’t believe our community and leaders have sunk to these depths,” said a supporter who asked not to be identified. “Very dispiriting.”

Hours later, during public comments to the city commission, several speakers chastised Bean for his refusal to read the proclamation.

“I’m very disappointed that our mayor, you Mr. Bean, have taken a stance that you will not read a proclamation requested by a group of city residents. You are elected as a commissioner to represent all citizens of this community,” said Victoria Robas. “You have read hundreds of proclamations in your role as mayor. Now you decide to pick and choose which of the multitude of individuals and organizations which make up the fabric of this community you will bless with a proclamation. What’s next Mr. Mayor? Will you refuse to read proclamations regarding black citizens, our Asian community or those with disabilities or minorities? Tyranny has small beginnings, and you have just shown this community how it’s done.”

Former Mayor Arlene Filkoff said, “I’ve always been a champion of the underdog. I understood (as mayor) my job wasn’t to be anybody’s minister or rabbi. My job was to be all inclusive to every citizen of this community. This proclamation was endorsing a memorial day for transgender people who were killed for being who they are. The proclamation didn’t mean that you agree with transgender. This is not something anyone should be OK with.”

20 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

angeldoccie2003@yahoo.com
Noble Member
[email protected](@angeldoccie2003yahoo-com)
7 months ago

Reading of a proclamation honoring those of our society who have had their lives ended because of hatred and bigotry. No one asked anyone to change their philosophy or their identity. It was simply a recognition. A recognition that turned the solemn night into a 3-ring circus. Thank you, Commissioner Ross, for stepping up and thank you Jordan Morris and the supporters who showed up.

MyFernandina
Trusted Member
MyFernandina(@myfernandina)
7 months ago

The TDoR began in 1990–33 years ago in San Francisco–yet is only now “proclaimed” here–why now?
It seems more to create controversy than promote true concern.
The occassion is normally marked by reading the names of those lost through violence.
If it is to honor those dead–please do so respectfully.

srcocchi
srcocchi(@srcocchi)
7 months ago
Reply to  MyFernandina

It’s not here “just now” and has been read before by previous Mayors. The controversy only exists from those, who are woefully or willfully ignorant to the issue and seem to pull the strings at City Hall. The Day of Remembrance at St. Peter’s is a great opportunity to learn more about a subject that many might not be aware of.

MyFernandina
Trusted Member
MyFernandina(@myfernandina)
7 months ago
Reply to  srcocchi

Unfortunately, this year the events suggest a political stunt rather than a solemn remembrance.

PattyM
Active Member
PattyM(@pattym)
7 months ago
Reply to  MyFernandina

It is the mayor who turned it into a political stunt by refusing to sign and read a proclamation, which I have read was written by the City Clerk as are all proclamations, similar to the ones read the past few years.

Paula M
Noble Member
Paula M(@paula-m)
7 months ago

Remember “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”…..that applies to EVERYONE no matter what their personal beliefs are and most especially to those who are elected BY the people.. FOR the people….ALL the people…

WendeBurdick
Active Member
WendeBurdick(@wendeburdick)
7 months ago
Reply to  Paula M

Excellent point Paula, if the people of our society would live by the golden rule, then we wouldn’t have any need for labels, classifications, movements, communities, days of remembrance, proclamations and all the other contortions we exercise to work around this basic principle which is seemingly all but forgotten in today’s world.

Bill Fold
Noble Member
Bill Fold(@bill-fold)
7 months ago

What folks are failing to understand here IMHO is that the proclamation should have been not only about honoring someone being killed by a hateful person, but also it should indicate there needs to be more focus on helping those “victims” with mental illness. Because like it or not, to think you are the opposite sex than you were born is nothing but a mental disorder and one that needs to be addressed by a psychological professional. Your DNA proves who and what you are, not your feelings, how you choose to identify, or what a surgeon can do for you. To try to push an ideology on “normal” people and expect the leaders of communities to echo that through proclamations just because you think you’re right is not the way to get your message across.
My sermon to the choir is over because I’m sure those of you who agree with Mr. Morris aren’t listening.

Mark Tomes
Trusted Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
7 months ago
Reply to  Bill Fold

Mr. “Fold,” you are 100% wrong regarding your assessment of what makes up a transgender person. It is more than DNA and birth sex, as there are many cultural, hormonal, genetic, societal, and physiological factors that go into making up who a person is, including their gender identity. I encourage you to stop parroting clichés by religious fanatics and read up on what really makes a person transgender, and in fact anything other than the normal heterosexual. Better yet, have an honest and open conversation with someone who is different from yourself. And by the way, I encourage you to come out of the closet and put your real name on your posts.

angeldoccie2003@yahoo.com
Noble Member
[email protected](@angeldoccie2003yahoo-com)
7 months ago
Reply to  Bill Fold

No one is pushing anything. My Compassionate Fernandina group was chartered by Mayor Robin Lentz. We tried spreading compassion but sadly I see now we need to regroup and do so again. NO ONE is forcing anything on anyone. IT was simply a remembrance of lives lost through hate and bigotry.

Douglas M
Famed Member
Douglas M(@douglasm)
7 months ago

The title of this reporting is spot on…….a solemn proclamation was marred when shortly after mentioning “cancel culture”, Ayscue was subjected to derisive laughter followed by insults. The unfortunate behavior was a stain on the event and only served to “prove” Ayscue’s cancel culture claim. Wow…..sad and misguided. The Commissioner is entitled to his opinion and verbal attacks during a meeting cannot be tolerated.

Mark Tomes
Trusted Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
7 months ago
Reply to  Douglas M

“Cancel culture” is an overused term by people who can’t handle criticism. Ayscue deserved the ridicule he got. Nobody was trying to stop him from speaking, only letting him know how they felt about what he said. Ironically, if anyone was canceling speech, it was Ayscue, by refusing to accept the proclamation.

angeldoccie2003@yahoo.com
Noble Member
[email protected](@angeldoccie2003yahoo-com)
7 months ago
Reply to  Douglas M

IMHO his comment following a solemn remembrance was wholly and totally unnecessary. He marred and ruined this night

Lois
Lois(@lois)
7 months ago

Please let’s not use animal imagery to personify any group of people. This propaganda technique of bygone horrors doesn’t contribute to small-town harmony or understanding. 

1 – “Standing behind the lecturn, Ross was soon enveloped by a swarm of 50 Pride members and supporters as he read the proclamation.”

2 – “Ayscue’s statement drew an immediate chorus of howls from the supporters, leading Mayor Bean to recess the meeting until the supporters had left the room.”

Thank you for preparing this online news source so thoroughly + regularly. It is valuable indeed. 

lehartgreen
Noble Member
lehartgreen(@lehartgreen)
7 months ago
Reply to  Lois

Thanks for mentioning this. Words have power and language misuse is one of the many issues that continue to polarize our community.

Betsie Huben
Famed Member
Betsie Huben(@betsie-huben)
7 months ago

Recognizing and remembering those who have been victims of hatred and brutality, for whatever reason, does one very important thing. It creates awareness. With greater awareness of a problem, communities can work together to defeat the kind of ignorance, hatred and brutality that ended Harvey Milk’s life, Matthew Sheppard’s, Rita Hester and others over the years. We seem to be okay standing up for Israel, the Ukraine, and victims of heinous abuses and death all over the world. Just not here in Fernandina? Gotta wonder who is Mayor Bean afraid of offending for reading a petition that has been read many times before? Likewise, which citizens are so afraid to stand up for their “beliefs” they need to use Commissioner Ayscue as their mouthpiece? The saddest evening I have ever experienced here on our island was last night watching the mess unfold. Leadership gave way to cowardice and prejudice.

jfindlay
Noble Member
jfindlay(@jfindlay)
7 months ago

Wonder if Bean and Ayscue were concerned about undermining their “antiwoke” credentials and putting their election funding at risk.

Alan Hopkins
Noble Member
Alan Hopkins(@dawaves)
7 months ago

Interesting “Report” Mike. I wonder why you didn’t add the first few words that Ayscue spoke.

“I want to say this why everyone was here. I want to thank Fernandina Pride. I think you have a wonderful organization I think you do a lot of good in our community.”

I think leaving this out was very disingenuous.

Douglas M
Famed Member
Douglas M(@douglasm)
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Hopkins

Yep……everyone should watch the video to see what transpired. Takes about 10 minutes.

angeldoccie2003@yahoo.com
Noble Member
[email protected](@angeldoccie2003yahoo-com)
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Hopkins

What he ended with is the hate that stays with us. It was unnecessary