Mak­ing way for Sally Ride

Res­o­lu­tion would re­place Ju­nipero Serra with the pi­o­neer­ing as­tro­naut in D.C.’s Stat­u­ary Hall.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Pa­trick McGreevy pa­trick.mcgreevy@la­times.com Twit­ter: @mc­greevy99

State Se­nate calls for swap­ping U.S. Capitol’s Ju­nipero Serra statue with one of the as­tro­naut.

SACRA­MENTO — A di­vided Cal­i­for­nia state Se­nate voted Mon­day to re­quest that the statue of Fa­ther Ju­nipero Serra in the U.S. Capitol be re­placed with one of NASA as­tro­naut Sally Ride, the first Amer­i­can woman in space.

Each state can place stat­ues of two of its im­por­tant cit­i­zens in the Capitol. The like­ness of the con­tro­ver­sial Catholic priest, who cre­ated the Cal­i­for­nia mission sys­tem and has been crit­i­cized for his treat­ment of na­tive Amer­i­cans, has been there since 1934. The other Cal­i­for­nia statue is of for­mer Pres­i­dent Rea­gan.

Most Repub­li­cans op­posed the res­o­lu­tion, by Sen. Ri­cardo Lara (D-Bell Gar­dens), who said Ride would be the first Cal­i­for­nia woman and known gay per­son in Stat­u­ary Hall and de­serves the honor as the first Amer­i­can woman in space.

“She was a hero and she in­spired girls and women to pur­sue their in­ter­est in math and science,” said an­other law­maker, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jack­son (D-Santa Bar­bara).

Ride died of can­cer in 2013 at age 61.

Lara also called Ride a role model for the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der com­mu­nity. “For the first time ever, LGBT youths will see them­selves in Stat­u­ary Hall,” Lara said dur­ing the de­bate.

The is­sue of Serra’s ef­fect on na­tive peo­ples was not raised dur­ing the floor de­bate, but an anal­y­sis by leg­isla­tive staff says, “Fa­ther Serra was as­cetic and un­com­pro­mis­ing in his zeal to con­vert Na­tive Amer­i­cans to Chris­tian­ity and to make his mis­sions self-suf­fi­cient.”

Op­po­nents of the res­o­lu­tion noted that Serra helped es­tab­lish Cal­i­for­nia through the mission sys­tem and is up for pos­si­ble saint­hood.

“Re­mov­ing his statue would be an af­front to the peo­ple of Cal­i­for­nia,” said Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Mur­ri­eta), “and it would be an in­sult to the tens of mil­lions of Catholics that call Cal­i­for­nia home.”

If the re­quest to swap stat­ues is ap­proved by the As­sem­bly and signed by the gover­nor, it will go to the Joint Com­mit­tee on the Li­brary of Congress.

Jim Wat­son AFP/Getty Images

OP­PO­NENTS of the res­o­lu­tion to re­place the statue of Ju­nipero Serra noted that he helped es­tab­lish Cal­i­for­nia through the mission sys­tem and is up for saint­hood. “Re­mov­ing his statue would be an af­front to the peo­ple of Cal­i­for­nia,” said Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Mur­ri­eta).

AFP/Getty Images

SALLY RIDE, shown aboard the space shut­tle Chal­lenger in 1983, would be the first Cal­i­for­nia woman and known gay per­son in Stat­u­ary Hall. She died in 2013.

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