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Oklahoma Gazette provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to pbacharach@okgazette. com or sent online at okgazette.com, but include a city of residence and contact number for verification.

Still a sportscaster

Mick Cornett’s commentary of May 16 (“Thunder has transformed city’s image,” Oklahoma Gazette) proved that I was right when Oklahoma City chose Mick Cornett over Jim Tolbert: If you elect a sportscaster as mayor, you get a sportscaster as mayor.

Cornett’s belief that the Thunder has transformed the city’s image is the kind of superficial observation one would expect from a talking head. Let me test his hypothesis: Oklahoma City is now nationally regarded as a place where one can attend a very popular sporting event. Footage of Thunder games on national television shows that Oklahomans love professional basketball. Are we improving our image by being seen as a state where professional basketball is just as popular as college football?

How about mentioning the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, where researchers hold more than 500 U.S. and international patents and have spun off 11 biotech companies? What about The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, rapidly becoming one of the premier pediatric medical facilities in the nation? Perhaps a mention of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of Chihuly glass?

Oh, never mind. Why would I expect a sportscaster to care about anything but sports?

Pioneering pride

—Jim Henry Oklahoma City

Another Pride Week has passed. Never before have we had more of a reason to stand with the LGBT citizens of Oklahoma than now. With the breakthrough of a sitting president endorsing and recognizing the rights of gay citizens to marry and hold the same legal rights as heterosexual couples — for the first time in history — we have much to celebrate.

Yet the fight has been long and difficult, and so many who started the efforts in Oklahoma to ensure equal rights for all citizens are no longer here to celebrate.

I recall the pride parades of the late ’80s in Oklahoma City: not large in the beginning, but they did not lack enthusiasm. Today, the parade is huge, and many churches, mainstream corporations, and civic and civil rights groups sponsor and participate in Pride Week and the parade. Thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma and Cimarron Alliance (and a couple of great attorneys), the pride banners proudly wave on Classen Boulevard.

One cannot think of Pride Week without remembering some who paved the way for the celebration we enjoy today. Three who stand out in my mind are Keith Smith, Bill Rogers and Paul Thompson. Sadly, all three are no longer with us. In addition, many others worked tirelessly advocating for human rights ordinances, which would include sexual orientation. The heated debates at City Council meetings back then would last all day, and yet no one ever wanted to give up.

Supporting the rights of all citizens is the right thing to do. Be proud to be on the “right side of history” and always celebrate Pride Week in Oklahoma.

—Joann Bell Harrah

Bell is the former executive director of ACLU of Oklahoma.

Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

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