Home » OC Board of Supervisors Sets Flag Policy Limiting Displays to Government Flags

OC Board of Supervisors Sets Flag Policy Limiting Displays to Government Flags

A proposal to limit the flags flown at county properties got the support of three Orange County supervisors Tuesday, June 6, meaning only government flags will be displayed in the future.

The new policy was proposed by First District Supervisor Andrew Do and affects all county properties, including parks, limiting flags to just those of the state, county and United States. His original proposal was amended to include the national POW/MIA flag.

Members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community urged the Board of Supervisors to not limit flags that can be on display, saying the decision excludes the Pride flag and could contribute to the erasure of the LGBTQ+ community in Orange County. There were about 15 speakers from the public during the meeting.

“The flag policy that I proposed today has nothing to do with any particular cause or social issue,” Do said during Tuesday’s meeting, adding that he refutes any efforts to define his item as exclusionary. Having other flags can cause division, the three government flags represent everyone, he said.

Fourth District Supervisor Doug Chaffee, who was the deciding vote, said he wasn’t sure “there is a need to single out a certain cause or group” because “we are trying to promote equity among everyone.”

“At this time, I’m seeing too many groups conflicting with each other,” he said.

Riley Williams, programs assistant at the LBGTQ Center OC, said with this one action, he believes the supervisors have “created more division.”

“It is more than that flag, it is an open invitation that, ‘You are welcome in this building and on this property,’” Williams said, adding that during the supervisors’ dialogue, there was no mention of the transgender community. “How am I supposed to know that I am welcome by the government when they haven’t made the effort to invite me as well? To let me know that they see me.”

Second District Supervisor Vicente Sarmiento and Fifth District Supervisor Katrina Foley had previously gotten together on requests to fly the Pride flag at county facilities and for a declaration for Pride Month. Neither proposal made Tuesday’s agenda. During the meeting, the two supervisors placed pride flags at their stations on the dais.

“We know that there is no unanimity on this issue, which is why we proposed to have this Pride flag flown. We know that there are certain communities that need the support more than others,” Sarmiento said during the meeting, adding that he found the timing of the item “ironic,” as it was on the heels of his and Foley’s requests, which were denied. “I don’t think there’s any coincidence. I think it’s more of a consequence of what we tried to do.”

Foley said she intends to bring forward again the proposed proclamation to declare June as Pride Month, adding she is disappointed by the board majority’s decision. The Pride flag is a symbol of inclusivity and celebration of diversity, she said, but “it’s also about sending a message of safety that people are safe here in Orange County who are in the LGBTQ+ community.”

“We’ll continue to send that message,” she said.

Earlier this year, the new Huntington Beach City Council majority voted to restrict the flags displayed at city-owned properties there to only government and various military flags.

That reversed a 2021 decision to join other Orange County cities that fly the Pride flag during Pride month, which is June. The rainbow-striped banner is a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities.

In several cities across the county, Pride flags have been included in what is displayed at city properties, including Anaheim, Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Irvine and Santa Ana.

Ana Marson, director of health and wellness at the LGBTQ Center OC, said after so much progress, this feels like “we are taking 10 steps back.”

“It is a concern for the wellbeing of our youth, our trans, non-binary (and) our queer youth who look up to the flag as a symbol of hope and safety,” Marson said. “It shows that there is a lot more work to do for our community to be understood and protected.”

Stephanie Camacho-Van Dyke, director of advocacy and education at the center, was “appalled” by today’s decision.

“It’s no coincidence in light of it being Pride Month and seeing what’s happening across the country with over 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced,” Camacho-Van Dyke said. “We are experiencing something that I’ve never seen. In terms of seeing these elected officials who did not have our back, who voted against us in a way, I couldn’t believe it. I have hope that we’ll continue being visible, continue using our voices. We’re not going to let this slight us by any means.”

Chaffee in a followup statement said he supports programs and initiatives by the county to provide the LGBTQIA+ community with resources and services. He supported the flag policy, he said, because government properties “should remain neutral.”

Chuck Hasse, a lawyer at the Orange County Public Defenders Office, said the values of the Pride flag – “the ability to live freely, it’s the ability to live openly and its the ability to live honestly” – are the same values as in the American flag.

“Those values are worth celebrating,” he said, adding he will be going to his local hardware store and buying Pride flags for him and his neighbors.

“Maybe one flag won’t be flying over the county building,” he said, “but it sure as hell will be flying around my neighborhood.”

Source : OC Register