Friday, July 12, 2024

Council in California’s “Surf City” Nixes Flying Gay Pride Flag Over Government Buildings

One of the gems of the West Coast, the City of Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City, has for over a century offered a waterfront respite from the bustle of California’s often frenetic urbanized lifestyle — and now at least some relief from the woke sensibilities of identity politics.

The Huntington Beach City Council has voted 4-3 not to fly the LGBTQ (Lesbian-Gay-Bi-sexual-Trans-sexual-and-Queer) Gay Pride Flag over city hall, a reversal of policy the panel passed two years ago in favor of flying the Pride colors during Gay Pride Month.

The council decision over what flags to fly in front of city government buildings — the flag of the United States, the California state flag, the city flag, the county flag, the POW/MIA flag and flags for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Space Force — was immediately met with criticism from a number of LGBT groups that demanded the rainbow-striped Pride flag be hoisted again.

Newly-elected Republican Councilmember Pat Burns, who initiated the new flag policy, said the exclusion of the Pride banner “has nothing to do with segregating or being anything else to another group…It has nothing to do with that. It’s recognizing we are one.”

Nonetheless, during the council’s regular meeting last week, several former and current area lawmakers challenged the rationale for the policy shift.

Former Huntington Beach Mayor Connie Boardman asserted flying the Pride colors “is a small gesture that recognizes the value of our residents and visitors who belong to the LGBTQ+ community, a gesture that shows the city sees them and values them.”

City Councilwoman Rhonda Bolton, a Democrat, argued the fact that “we have symbols that have a special meaning to certain segments of the community does not mean that other segments of the community are excluded.”

The city’s flag issue dates back to 2021, when city council voted to allow the Pride flag to be flown during June, which is Gay Pride Month. The flag flew over city buildings again in 2022 — although it’s reported many local residents were starting to feel the flag was more divisive than inclusive and flying the flag to prove that the community was inclusive was more than a little counterintuitive. The council also fielded other questions over the flag not being an official government or military flag, as most locales usually limit permitted flags to those categories.

As such, Burns initiated a measure that would limit the flags being allowed to be flown in front of government buildings.

The proposal passed on a party-line vote. Anne-Marie Katz, a  Southern California pollster over LGBT issues, noted that the Huntington Beach issue had been particularly divisive as opposed to other recent controversies involving the LGBT community.

“This one has been getting a lot of attention,” Katz told the California Globe in a story published last week. “It’s a combination of something LGBT being taken away instead of expanded on, a fight over what inclusiveness actually means, and just a general divide on the issue in one of the redder areas of the state.”