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Encinitas raises rainbow pride flag outside of City Hall

ENCINITAS — Outside of Encinitas City Hall, the rainbow pride flag waves below the state and U.S. flags.

For the City Council, raising the flag in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month was an easy — and the right — thing to do.

Following a brief and emotional special hearing on June 19, the City Council voted 4-0 to become the first city in the county to raise the flag at its City Hall, joining a growing number of agencies taking aim at the Trump Administration’s recent policy forbidding the flag at federal buildings.

“It’s really important that in these political times, where it is indisputable that our culture is becoming more intolerant, that we do what we can to preserve our respect and dignity for all people and that many people have come to expect,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. “We are pushing back and … sending that message loud and clear.”

Encinitas is one of the only cities in the county with five registered Democrats serving on its city council. But the council members said that the fight for equality should not be a partisan issue.

“I think it is important that we take a moment to celebrate June and LGBTQ+ pride month,” said Councilman Joe Mosca, who approached the city with the idea of waving the flag. Mosca is the city’s first openly gay councilman.

“Part of this is personal — as a gay man with adopted kids, I benefited in a big way from the leadership in the past and am keenly aware of that and my responsibility to continue the advancement of equality,” Mosca said.

Councilman Tony Kranz said the request caused him to reflect on his father, who fought in World War II and had a deep reverence for the flag, but also made him think of his late older brother, who came out in 1979 and died of AIDS in 1987.

“While we have made significant progress, unfortunately we have a long ways to go,” Kranz said. “He (his father) would agree that flying this flag would be appropriate.”

Kranz said that contrasting the time period when his family was grappling with his brother’s sexuality to today, the fact that the city has an openly gay councilman underscores the progress.

“And I look forward to raising the flag with him,” Kranz said.

Encinitas decision is being hailed by leading members of the LGBTQ community, who said it demonstrates that the city is an ally to the community.

“Flying the flag over City Hall during Pride Month is a clear message of support to the thousands of LGBT families that live in North County,” said Max Disposti, executive director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center in Oceanside. Disposti worked with Mosca on the matter.

“In this climate of rampant hate and anti-LGBT rhetoric our youth need the support of our community and political leadership to create visible and clear support in our schools and community,” Disposti said.

Encinitas’ decision comes shortly after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that the Trump administration rejected U.S. embassies’ requests to fly the rainbow pride flag in June.

Some embassies have defied the policy and flown the flag or found other ways to honor Pride Month, such as by shining rainbow lights on the exterior of embassies.

California was joined by Wisconsin and New York, which also decided to raise the pride flag at their state capitols for the first time in their history.

Photo by Jacob Aere