Columbus--SpeakOut, a straight ally group of Stonewall Columbus, held a small demonstration September 2 to support the Upper Arlington library board�s decision to continue distributing two gay publications in their lobbies.
With more than 100 area citizens demanding the publications� removal, the board had voted unanimously three days earlier to allow Outlook News and the Gay People�s Chronicle to remain.
Controversy over the publications erupted in June when Upper Arlington resident Mark Bloom asked the board to remove the papers due to their �pornographic� content. He said he and his children had taken stacks of the papers from the library lobby and thrown them in the trash. Both publications contend that this is theft and have sought legal counsel on the matter.
�I think Mr. Bloom recruited people to come on his behalf� to the board meeting, said SpeakOut organizer Cheri Meyers. She added that she is concerned about local media�s reports of those opposed to the papers.
�He is trying to say this isn�t about homosexuality,� she noted, �but it clearly is.�
Meyers and half a dozen supporters held signs outside the library entrance and along the road in front of the library. Several motorists honked in support of the issue. Library patrons and staff expressed support and asked if there was a petition they could sign.
Opponents to the board�s decision vowed during the board meeting that they would work against all future library levies. After the meeting, several residents discussed ways of removing board members from their posts.
Board member Megan Gilligan received much of the initial criticism as she read a statement in support of her decision to continue to display the publications. She said she was surprised how controversial the issue has become.
�I�ve only been on the board for a few months and expected to be drinking tea and picking out chintz curtains and fireplace stone for the Miller Park addition,� said Gilligan.
Library director Ann Moore assured SpeakOut members of her support for the papers. She said she is seeking legal advice to determine an alternative means of display for all of the free publications at the library, something that was a concern for SpeakOut member Jamie Rhein.
�I want to make sure that they aren�t going to put people back in the closet by putting the publication behind the counter,� said Rhein. �If I was a questioning youth I wouldn�t ask a 50-year-old librarian for a copy.�
Meyers said she expects the controversy to continue at the next few board meetings, as some residents may ask the board to reconsider the decision.
�That�s why we are here. We aren�t going away either,� said Meyers.
The board�s new policy concerning the distribution of free publications can be found at www.ualibrary.org.
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