Upper Arlington, Ohio--The Upper Arlington Public Library board tried to close the book on a campaign against two Ohio gay publications this week with a decision to continue free distribution of the papers, but put them out of reach of minors.
Opponents of the publications, however, swore the August 30 board meeting would not be the last chapter in the debate.
�You should be ashamed of yourself, John Magill, both as a father as a Catholic,� said Maria Adamo, as she chastised board president Magill for his vote to allow Outlook Weekly and the Gay People�s Chronicle to remain in the library. She, like many other opponents of the papers, was escorted from the meeting by police.
�I consider it to be an honor to be thrown out of this meeting,� said one resident who received a hearty applause from the audience.
Adamo called the publications �deadly material� and said pedophiles frequently use pornography to �break down� children. She said as a mother of five she was concerned about a known local sex offender approaching young boys and vowed to work against future library levies because of the decision.
After the meeting Adamo admitted she had never read the Gay People�s Chronicle.
The six-member board voted unanimously to continue to allow the publications to be distributed at the library, though director Ann Moore said she plans to create a display which would keep similar publications out of the hands of minors.
Though the vast majority of speakers in the crowd of about 140 were against allowing the publications to be distributed, individual library board members defended their votes.
Board member Megan Gilligan was interrupted several times during her statement as local residents were asked to leave and escorted out of the meeting by police. She said while she believed the majority of protesters were concerned about the content of all free publications, a vocal faction targeted the two publications because they are GLBT-oriented.
�Really, this started out that we should not have gay materials,� said fellow board member Wanda Carter, who acknowledged the issue, like the crowd, had grown to express other concerns about other publications. �I will have no part in saying we will put gay materials in a special area.�
Before the meeting, audience members such as Linda Harvey used the time to hand out anti-gay material and their pre-printed statements they planned to read in front of the board. Harvey is director of the anti-gay group Mission America, headquartered in Columbus.
Resident Bruce Cameron used the time to point out that a public elementary school was just 200 yards away from the library.
Gilligan chastised some people opposed to the publications for standing outside local schools to hand homemade pamphlets to parents, saying they �seemed to be making a special effort to get the offending material in the hands of the very children they claim they are trying to protect.�
Members of the audience used their three minutes of public speaking time to read graphic excerpts from articles in Outlook Weekly. Those in attendance cited the obvious sexual references and what they called pro-drug use items in Outlook as reasons for their outrage.
�I can�t fathom why this has gotten to be an issue,� said Susan Dick, citing what she called a pro-crystal meth article titled �Tina is Not a Bitch,� which urges responsible drug use. �Yeah, I would really prefer my child to believe you can responsibly use an illegal drug.�
Resident Carolyn Casper-Duvall said residents who believed raising their children in �a velvet glove� in Upper Arlington were not preparing their children for the diversity they would experience later in life.
�I feel like I am taking my life in my hands here,� said Casper-Duvall, the sole speaker in support of the papers.
No audience member during the 2�-hour meeting made reference to the content of the Gay People�s Chronicle. Board members described the differences between the two publications, saying very little opposition has concerned the Chronicle.
�It�s clearly a very mainstream publication,� said Magill of the Chronicle. Gilligan said she was unable to find the publication in many libraries so she �[had] to disagree that this publication is being shoved in my face.�
The Gay People�s Chronicle is presently distributed at the main Upper Arlington library as well as the Columbus main library and its branches. However, Mark Bloom, a leader of the group opposing the papers, told a newspaper earlier this year that he has taken every copy from library racks and thrown them in the trash, with his children helping him. Both papers allow single copy pickup only, and say that Bloom�s act is theft.
As people who had been removed from the meeting waited upstairs for other opponents, they discussed ways of fighting future library levies and removing library board members from their posts.
Some in the audience used their time to speak personally about their opposition to homosexuality in general.
�These magazines have been strategically placed in our library by the enemy� said Lancaster resident Deborah French, who said she has been �out of the homosexual lifestyle� for 16 years. �This is not a gay lifestyle, I have lived it. It�s a death lifestyle.�
Resident Paul Kessen, noting that video games influence children�s behavior, challenged the board to find �a civilization that has survived its own moral decay.� He said he believed �sexual deviancy would be along the same path that violent behavior would [be].�
Kessen asked for supporters of the newspapers to stand up. Of the approximate 140 in attendance, only 15 stood up. But the show of numbers didn�t deter the board from its decision.
�If we aren�t going to stand up for the First Amendment in a free public library, then who will?� said board member Jack Burtch.
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