Huntington Beach City Council has voted to remove the LGBT flag from in front of government buildings, instead opting to only fly official government and military flags.
The issue stems from the Council's previous decision to allow the rainbow-striped gay pride flag to fly during the gay pride months of June 2021 and 2022. However, concerns were raised about the flag being divisive rather than inclusive, and the fact that it was not an official government or military flag.
Councilmember Pat Burns, a recently elected Republican, proposed the new flag policy to limit the flags to the United States flag, 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.
"It has nothing to do with segregating or being anything else to another group," stated Burns. "It's recognizing we are one."
During a meeting this week, former and current lawmakers challenged the proposal, with former Mayor Connie Boardman saying, "This 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."
"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," added Councilwoman Rhonda Bolton.
The proposal passed in a 4-3 party-line vote on Tuesday, sparking anger from LGBT groups. However, the controversy has garnered enough attention for local residents in nearby cities to push for similar legislation.
Anne-Marie Katz, a Southern California pollster on LGBT issues, stated that the Huntington Beach issue has been particularly divisive compared to other recent controversies involving the LGBT community.
"What is noticeable is that no one is saying anything remotely close to having rights being taken away, nor has anyone said anything about the flag not being allowed to be flown anywhere else," Katz told the California Globe. "We started a few polls on Wednesday, and we got some answers from those in favor of LGBT rights thinking that the city banned the flag altogether."
"All that happened is that the city revised the flag standard to government and military flags only. That’s it," she continued. "People are still allowed to fly the flags they want to, and after this, I expect a few more residents will bring out gay pride flags come June.”