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The City of Carlsbad will fly the intersectional pride flag at City Hall for a month every June. Stock photo
The City of Carlsbad will fly the intersectional pride flag at City Hall for a month every June. Stock photo
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Carlsbad agrees to raise intersectional pride flag at City Hall

CARLSBAD — The City Council voted in support of flying the intersectional pride flag for the month of June at City Hall following a 3-2 vote during its June 13 meeting.

The item was brought forward by Councilwoman Teresa Acosta after the council previously voted down a new policy allowing the flying of commemorative flags last month.

The council majority anchored its decision based on the city’s constitutionally-protected right to free speech as determined by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Shurtleff v. City of Boston, agreeing to raise the intersectional pride flag for the rest of this month — and every June thereafter — in support of the LGBTQ community.

“…The U.S. Supreme Court … determined that if a city reserves its flagpole to communicate its own messages, it may choose which flags it wants to fly without consideration of the First Amendment’s free speech clause,” a staff report reads. “However, if a city opens its flagpole for citizens to express their own views, the city cannot then refuse to fly a flag based on the flag’s viewpoint.”

Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel, Councilwoman Carolyn Luna and Acosta voted in support of the motion.

The city will either borrow a pride flag from the North County LGBTQ Resource Center or purchase its own. The flag is expected to be raised in the coming days.

“The intersectional flag represents marginalized people for sexuality, race, disabilities, and more,” Acosta said. “I believe this. It’s a special flag. There are so many different emotions swirling around this. I want to fly this flag.”

Mayor Keith Blackburn and Councilwoman Melanie Burkholder both voted against the motion, with Blackburn saying he doesn’t feel comfortable supporting one group over another.

“This is a sensitive and emotional issue,” Blackburn said. “Whether we raise the flag or don’t raise the flag, City Hall is a welcoming place. It’s the humans inside City Hall. I just can’t say ‘yes’ to one group and then have to say ‘no’ to other groups.”

Burkholder said the issue is offensive to other residents in the city and not a unifying topic based on reactions from some correspondences and public speakers.

Burkholder was also concerned with the council acting in a manner not inclusive of all residents, especially with more pressing concerns such as the city’s budget and impending deficit.

Supporters of the move argue the flag signals an inclusive environment for every resident in the city. Many also cited anti-LGBTQ legislation in other states, discrimination and targeted violence, and unfounded fears of other groups approaching the city to flag their flags.

Max Dispositi, executive director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center in Oceanside side echoed most of the sentiments but also spoke about the threats facing the LGBTQ community.

Disposti said the Human Rights Campaign recently announced a national state of emergency due to more than 70 bills the group considers anti-LGBTQ, noting the intersectional pride flag will show Carlsbad is a place for all.

Residents in opposition argued there are many reasons not to raise the pride flag, such as avoiding government speech that appears to favor one group over another, along with other religious and secular considerations. Several also said the U.S. and state flags already represent all people, so those two should remain as the only flags at City Hall.

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