On Tuesday, January 10th, 2023, Temecula City Council declared it will no longer recognize federal heritage months that celebrate and encourage cultural diversity in an attempt to “not exclude people.” Councilmember Jessica Alexander opposed the recognition of Pride month, arguing that conversations of individuals’ sexual orientations would be “dishonoring her god” and do nothing valuable for the running of Temecula. This proclamation is a step back for the city of Temecula and a stab in the back for the diverse population of Temecula.
Temecula is siding with division rather than inclusion. At the city council meetings, many residents voiced concerns about the proclamation. Councilmember James Stewert proposed that celebrations of diversity are “exclusionary celebrations” that promote one group above another. Councilmember Curtis Brown, on the opposition, voted no on the proclamation, expressing that these heritage months are not about excluding other groups but rather honoring and promoting inclusivity. Temecula is rejecting the celebration of diverse racial and ethnic groups, women and the LGBTQIA+ community, who continuously face enormous struggle and opposition to their existence by governmental officials whose job it is to represent and protect them. Heritage months are meant to promote education and condemn ignorance. Many Americans lack awareness of the plight people of color experience in this city because of the extreme pushback and lack of education among government officials. The council proved their ignorance with this vote of 3-2 in favor of the proclamation
With this vote, Temecula council sided with white supremacy and Christian nationalism, enforcing the idea that Temecula is not the place for diversity. Temecula Resident Mike Sobcazak, a local Proud Boy, spoke in favor of the city’s decision. Sobczak stated that the residents of Temecula are “not woke” and offered that instead of a June Pride Month, the city should provide a July “straight pride” month. Local Temecula resident Jessica Christopher also spoke in favor of the resolution, declaring that instituting pride month was a “waste of county resources.” Christopher also implied that “Temecula has always been a family-friendly place,” and the celebration of pride month would remove that aspect. Similar to the proud boy, she would like the city to implement a “heterosexual month” to celebrate straight pride.
Temecula council members continue to allow their religious beliefs to interfere with their running of the country. Rather than uplifting its diverse population, the city is promoting exclusion and showing its racial and religious bias. Member of Temecula’s defense of democracy, Dr. Sandra Cox, saw this as a “thinly-veiled attempt” for Alexander to exclude those who do not represent her individual religious beliefs. Temecula city representatives seem to lack familiarity with the Constitutional theory that government should involve a separation of Church and State.
Temecula council has proven time and time again that they are on the side of ignorance. Councilmember Jessica Alexander, on many occasions, proposed resolutions in line with her own religious and personal beliefs, constantly crossing the boundaries between religion and government. In September, Alexander unsuccessfully attempted to declare Temecula a “sanctuary for the unborn” with a city-wide abortion ban. The councilmember seems to hold that she, as a Christian white woman in America, is a victim of oppression, going as far as to compare herself to Rosa Parks for her refusal to wear a mask in 2021 amid a global pandemic.
The proclamation that the city of Temecula will no longer declare federal heritage months is their way of demonstrating that if you are a person of color or a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you are not welcome in this city. Time and time again, the council proves this, siding with the white supremacist group the Proud Boys and spouting Christian nationalist rhetoric during political discussions. The line between church and state within the government was crossed by Temecula. This line will continue to be crossed until there is new leadership within the council- this new leadership should be representative of the city’s diverse population.