Pride month

Pride Flag Controversy Hits City Halls in San Diego County

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Ahead of Pride Month in June, many city halls nationwide are discussing whether or not Pride flags should be allowed to fly outside their facilities. Locally, the topic is being discussed by city leaders in La Mesa and Carlsbad.

On Tuesday night, the lone Republican on La Mesa’s city council, Laura Lothian, sent a memo to fellow councilmembers and the mayor asking for only government flags to be flown at City Hall. After two hours of testimony from 40 public commenters, the majority of whom were opposed to Lothian’s proposal, she ended up not making a motion on the issue. La Mesa will continue to allow the Pride flag to be flown outside of City Hall during Pride Month.

“It’s not your place to use City Hall, the people’s house, the people’s taxpayer-funded pole for your political messaging,” Lothian said. “What is the City of La Mesa supposed to be doing with these gigantic global issues? It just seems like a lot of grandstanding instead of getting stuff done for actual La Mesans. So that was my purpose, we need to start depoliticizing City Hall.”

On the same night over in Carlsbad, city councilmembers voted on changing their policy to allow commemorative flags to be flown outside of City Hall, including the Pride flag. Three Carlsbad city councilmembers, including Priya Bhat-Patel, voted in favor of allowing commemorative flags and two voted against it. To change policy in the City of Carlsbad there needs to be a 4-1 vote by city council, so the proposal failed and the city will not be allowed to fly commemorative flags outside their City Hall.

“It’s a symbol of hope and acceptance and ensuring that they feel that they actually belong and so many of these commemorative flags are about, whether it’s about marginalized communities or celebrating and honoring our prisoners of war,” Bhat-Patel said. “It was very disappointing as a councilmember. It’s not just about just disagreeing, it’s really — we should be able to promote acceptance and equality for all individuals.”

The city of San Diego has allowed Pride flags to be flown outside of City Hall during Pride Month. Mayor Todd Gloria, the city's first openly-gay mayor, said Pride flags should not be politicized.

“It’s frustrating as a LGBTQ person to see the rights and visibility of my community continue to be up for grabs by politicians who want to exploit them for their own purposes,” Mayor Gloria said. “These other cities need to step up their game when it comes to being solution-oriented on homelessness, rather than wasting their time talking about flags that no one is truly offended by, and it actually sends a strong signal to communities about whether or not they’re supported and accepted by their governments.”

In the State Capitol in Sacramento, the Pride flag has been flown during Pride Month since 2019. Earlier this year, the Huntington Beach City Council voted only to allow government flags outside of City Hall.

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