By Jim Tortolano
Disappointment turned to elation Tuesday night when the same Garden Grove City Council that was reluctant to support displaying the “Gay Pride” flag in the lobby of City Hall then backed lighting up the city’s landmark clock tower in rainbow colors.
Nearly three hours of public comments on the agenda item about creating a policy that would allow the display of commemorative flags on city property featured 30 speakers, of which 28 were in favor of a flag policy that could include the rainbow banner, with two against.
But following those comments, when Councilman Phat Bui announced he would not support such a policy, the original sponsor of the proposal Councilmember Kim Nguyen (District 6) conceded there were probably not enough votes for her efforts to prevail.
But it didn’t end there. Councilmember Stephanie Klopfenstein (District 5 and mayor pro tem) acknowledged the “authentic feelings” of speakers from the LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual transsexual) community members and their allies who spoke at the meeting.
She also expressed doubt that a flag in the city hall lobby during June was the best way to observe the struggle of same-sex Americans toward full equality and then asked, “What else can we do?”
Councilmember Thu-Ha Nguyen (District 3) suggested displaying the rainbow flag in the Community Meeting Center. But the idea that caught the imagination and support of the council was the lighting of the clock tower at the apex of Main and Euclid streets in the Village Green Park.
Kim Nguyen reminded the council the tower has been lit up before in blue for Autism Month, and that it would cost the city about $500 to $600 a week to give it a rainbow light wash.
Councilmember George Brietigam (District 1), who had been one of the most resolute opponents of any but government flags, announced his backing of the light display because “it doesn’t take anything away” from the national banner.
By “acclamation,” the council authorized city staff to implement the illumination, which City Manager Scott Stiles said could begin within a day or two. A permanent solution in terms of buying rather than renting the lighting would be studied, he added.
Delighted members of the audience streamed to the dais and all posed for a photograph with a huge rainbow banner and members of the city council.
Tuesday’s council meeting was the third in which the issue of displaying the flag occupied most of the council’s time and attention.
Categories: Garden Grove