Columbia Heights Mayor Accused of Discrimination for not Issuing Gay Pride Festival Proclamation

The mayor of Columbia Heights is under fire after refusing to issue a proclamation for the city’s pride festival, set to take place on July 13.

Mayor Donna Schmitt

Mayor Donna Schmitt says that the pride festival did not fit within the guidelines for the ceremonial documents. The guidelines state that “matters of political controversy, ideological or religious beliefs, or individual conviction” will not be issued proclamations. Additionally, the guidelines state that “the Mayor’s Office reserves the right to modify or deny any proclamation request.”

Local LGBTQ activists believe that they fit in the city’s guidelines and are concerned that they are being discriminated against. One activist, Amada Marquez Simula has said that the “eye is on Columbia Heights that our city government is biased against the LGBTQ community”

However, Mayor Schmitt pointed out that the city has “denied three other proclamations in the last couple of months,” adding that “nowhere does it state or has been implied that I’m against individuals in the LGBTQ community.”

Mayor Schmitt has also said that they are all allowed to “go out and celebrate, they are more than welcome to rent our parks and have a family-friendly event as they have requested” because they do not need a proclamation to do so. “It is not about a group, it’s about ‘let’s follow the guidelines,’” Mayor Schmitt added. 

Regardless, the pride festival in Columbia Heights will still take place on July 13. It is set to begin at 2 p.m. at Sullivan Lake Park. 

Megan Olson

Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.