Huntington Beach banned flying the Pride flag at City Hall during a sometimes heated City Council meeting earlier this week.
It’s an abrupt about face from 2021 when the City Council voted 6-0 to hoist the Pride flag for six weeks to coincide with LGBTQ Pride Month in June.
That vote happened on May 22, the birthday of former San Francisco supervisor and civil rights leader Harvey Milk, who was fatally shot in 1978.
But, in November, four new council members were elected, creating a new conservative majority on the council: retired police officer Pat Burns, former state Senator Tony Strickland, and business owners Gracey Van der Mark, and Casey McKeon.
Burns authored the ordinance to overturn the city’s practice of flying the Pride flag, saying only certain flags should be flown. The proposal said those flags would be limited to Huntington Beach, Orange County, POW/MIAs, California, and the United States.
“The City of Huntington Beach should avoid actions that could easily or mistakenly be perceived as divisive,” Burns said in a staff report.
During Tuesday’s meeting, he said, “I believe actually that we are all equal and we don’t need titles or anything, and that our flags that we have that represent our governments are what is important to unify us and get over this divisive titling.”
After more than two hours of public comment and more than 40 speakers, the council voted 4-3 to ban the Pride flag at City Hall.
Burns, McKeon, Strickland, and Van der Mark voted yes.
Council members Dan Kalmick, Rhonda Bolton, and Natalie Moser voted no.
Kalmick, who authored the 2021 resolution to hoist the rainbow flag during Pride Month, told his fellow council members, “If you don’t want to fly the Pride flag, let’s come out and say it.”
Kalmick also said Tuesday’s vote sends a chilling message.
“What it actually did — which was to stop the Pride flag from being flown in in June — is something that’s absolutely discouraging and frightening for our folks in the LGBTQ community that live in town and come and visit and recreate in our town,” he said.