Two members of the Chestertown Town Council voted to deny its citizens fundamental and inalienable rights of all men and women. Rights enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Rights men and women in uniform died to protect. Councilmembers Stetson and Tolliver voted to deny citizens their rights to freely and peacefully assemble, and they voted for discrimination.
Their vote to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) citizens and their families, friends, and allies in their request to use a public park to celebrate their diversity must not go unaddressed. This isn’t just about a vote that is an affront to the Chestertown that I know—a welcoming town that would look vastly different without the important contributions of our LGBTQ friends and family. This is bigger. The reputation–and maybe even the future–of Chestertown is at stake. Mr. Stetson and the Rev. Tolliver must resign.
Left unaddressed, this vote to discriminate may have profound and as yet unknown consequences for the community. What business or person would want to move to a community where nearly half its elected officials voted in support of discrimination? Those same elected officials bemoan the lack of jobs for young people and lament the loss of economic development. But those officials are unable to see how discrimination and bigotry play a role in young people’s departure from Chestertown for better opportunities and fail to understand that businesses well suited for a college town—businesses like a tech startup—would quickly dismiss Chestertown as unwelcoming because of their recent vote.
Despite their many years of service to Chestertown, which should be congratulated, Mr. Stetson and the Rev. Tolliver cannot continue to represent the citizens of Chestertown on the Town Council. They must resign immediately. And the citizens of Chestertown must come together to ensure our town continues to welcome everyone, regardless of whom they love. We must stand against people who vote to deny citizens their fundamental rights and must call out discrimination in every form. This cannot go unaddressed.
Former Chestertown resident