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Three council members explain their abstention on the “drag queen” ordinance

Posted: 3:08 PM, Sep 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-19 16:14:35-04

Three members of the Lafayette City-Parish Council posted explanations Wednesday for their refusal to vote on a resolution that would have “denounced” a plan to allow male UL students dressed in drag to read stories to kids.

The resolution would have had no force of law; the council has no authority over library programming. The resolution failed. Three council members voted for it, and the remainder abstained – meaning they refused to cast a vote.

The planned program, which is modeled on dozens of ongoing programs across the country, has men dressed in drag reading stories to children. The program is free and open to the public and will be presented at the Lafayette Public Library. The aim is to teach the children who attend about acceptance. The description states it is geared toward children ages 3 through 6. It is up to parents to bring their children to story time, if they chose to.

To read the resolution, click here:  resolution-story-time

We’re posting each of the statements in their entirety.

Here’s what Council member Liz Webb Hebert said:

Government should know its role and it’s most certainly not to step in and overshadow the role of parents who know what’s best and appropriate for their children. At last nights meeting there were parents that live in District 8 that were both “For and Against” this issue.

The Resolution offered at Tuesday night’s Council meeting was misleading at best – misleading in that it suggested the Council has any sort of oversight of library programming. Such a Resolution from city-parish government approving or disapproving of library programming and content is political overreach and an attempt to legislate morality.

The resolution neither created law nor did it fall within the scope of our authority to govern. In fact, this position statement had no action item which directly impacted the library program; nor can we do so.

To clarify, the Council Members do not make decisions with reference to the day-to-day programming/services of the Lafayette Public Library and are unable to cancel or modify the program.

This is why I chose to abstain.

Council President Kevin Naquin posted the following statement:

In regards to my vote to abstain at last nights council meeting on the Resolution about Drag Queen Story Time at Library.

My thoughts are before you start judging me or calling me a coward. Let me tell you my thoughts. Then you can say what you want about this. You may also call me to discuss.

I know deep down and understand that it’s not at all appropriate for kids 3/6 years old. I agree, However I feel morally it’s not government to judge nor myself to judge people… so I simply say that it should fall on us, as Parents to make those decisions If they feel it’s appropriate for their kids or not. You don’t have to participate.

I simply will not participate by not sending my kids there!!!

I did not Approve nor was this a law to cancel or take down this issue. It was a resolution that meant nothing. I abstain with the hopes to get more legal information and find a more appropriate way of handing this. I am meeting with the Library Board of Control to discuss why they have not weighed in on this issue. I strongly feel as appointees and Board Members for Library that it is important that they address this issue by discussing there intentions. The director should not just make decisions without board approval. That’s why there appointed. Again LCG and Council at this point has no legal authority to cancel or remove programs. As chairman, I issued my statement in regards to this matter.

My morals and my heart feels that even if I disagree with the program its not me or anyone to pass judgement.. that is for a higher power.

I teach my children that you don’t have to like them, agree with them, or participate, dress like them, or act like them. But they are human beings and have the same rights as us. However, they should be respected! Treat and respect others how you want to be treated.

I can assure you it’s not being swept under the rug. I also knew that in 7 years on the council I never abstained before. I just felt that i needed more information before making this decision. There was new info that came up and I was not prepared to make a position at that time. I know that I was not voting NO, because I don’t think it’s appropriate. But I also was not trying to let my personal opinions decide my vote. I prefer to get a better understanding of this situation. I prefer to handle things respectfully rather than making a knee jerk.

Sorry if I disappointed anybody! At least you know where I am coming from. Praying hard that this can be resolved without harm to our community.

Thanks again for your time!
Hope you understand my position.

Thanks,

Kevin Naquin

Councilman Bruce Conque posted the following statement:

My reasoning for abstaining on the vote last night on the “Drag Queen” resolution.

First, nothing in the resolution called for the cancellation of the reading program.

The Council is a legislative body; the governing authority for the city and parish of Lafayette. The resolution neither created law nor did it fall within the scope of our authority to govern. In fact, this position statement had no action item which directly impacted the library program; nor can we do so.

I was not elected to be an arbiter of either community standards or family values. By abstaining I made a statement that I am refusing to be drawn down what could be a slippery slope.