By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune
After three hours of divided – and at some times, emotional – public comments, the Huntington Beach City Council on Tuesday night did what it was widely expected to do: it voted 4-3 in favor of introducing an ordinance that essentially banned the display of the rainbow “gay pride” flag on city property.
Before the council was a proposal that will – if approved on a second reading at the next meeting – limit the flying of flags at City Hall and other municipal properties including the city’s iconic pier of any flags other than government flags, as well as the POW/MIA banner.
Just as on Feb. 7, those supporting the ban were Mayor Tony Strickland, Vice Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark and Councilmembers Pat Burns and Casey McKeon. Opposed were Councilmembers Rhonda Bolton, Dan Kalmick and Natalie Moser.
The public comments ranged from the sincere to the angry to the theatrical. One supporter of the ban lifted a rainbow flag, tore it in half and stomped on it. An opponent led compatriots in the packed council chamber in a chant of “We stand in support of the pride flag.”
Thirty-four speakers opposed the proposal and 24 were in support. The city clerk said that e-mails on the matter ran 390 against the ban and 323 in favor.
When it came time for the council to take a vote, Kalmick called the proposed ordinance “cowardly” and “a bad example of public policy rife with mistakes” and told the council “There’s an economic cost to this.”
To the argument that the proposed action excluded the LGBTQ community, McKeon said that the U.S. national flag “is by definition, inclusive of everyone.” In reference to a decision by the Blue Shield Foundation to cancel meetings in Huntington Beach because of the proposed policy, he said, ‘“Why is Blue Shield trying to blackmail us?” and suggested the city might consider a change in the medical plans offered to city employees.
The final vote was taken at 11:03 p.m.
Categories: Huntington Beach