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LGBTQ Nation: Orange County bans “divisive” Pride flags as anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes rise


Orange County, California has banned the Pride flag from being flown outside of any county offices or on county government properties. The banning follows a recent increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in the county.

In a meeting last Tuesday, the county’s Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to ban the flag. Republican supervisor Andrew Do requested the ban, Q Voice News reported, citing his desire to stop any “divisive” flags from potentially creating community disruptions at future board meetings.

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Democrat Doug Chaffee voted in support of the ban along with Republican Donald Wagner. The board’s two other Democratic members, Vicente Sarmiento and Katrina Foley, voted against the ban.

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Do’s resolution only allows the flying of the Orange County, state, and federal flags, as well as a flag for U.S. military soldiers who are prisoners of war and missing in action (POW-MIA). He said he supports the LGBTQ+ community, pointing to his efforts to help transgender people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and his hiring of a gay man to the county’s top public health leadership role, Voice of OC reported.

Do said his proposal wasn’t motivated by opposition to any specific social issue. However, Wagner disagreed, noting that Do issued his proposal at the beginning of Pride Month.

“It is not a coincidence that this policy is in front of us right now,” Wagner said. “It is not a coincidence that we’re considering it today for the first time in the more than 100 years of this County’s existence. We’re considering it today, in response to the divisive effort to fly one particular flag. So yes, there absolutely is a connection.”

Foley asked Do if his proposal would ban a recent sheriff’s flying of a police appreciation flag, one that doesn’t fall under Do’s list of pre-approved flags. Do responded, “You’re free to ask, and I’m free to ignore you.”

Foley said, “By taking the stance today of banning the Pride flag, which is what this is tantamount to, at all of our county buildings, our county board offices, other than in our internal offices, our parks, our airport, our harbors, our beaches, it sends the wrong message to America and to the world.”

The OC Human Relations Commission’s September report on annual hate crimes said anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes had increased by 83% in 2021.

In February, the conservative-led city council of Huntington Beach (13 miles southwest of Orange County) voted 4-3 to ban Pride flags from flying outside of its City Hall. Supporters of the policy said it was necessary to stop future battles over which group’s flags are allowed and which ones aren’t.

Councilmember Dan Kalmick denounced the vote, saying, “It’s of course a ban on the city flying the Pride flag. Call it what it is… We’ve flown the pride flag for two years, and the world didn’t end.” The city previously flew the flag for six weeks during Pride Month.

Huntington Beach resident Gretchen Dawson told the council that the ban “sends a signal that we’re not safe here,” adding, “Safety is the biggest reason why we fly the Pride flag … by taking it away – not flying it – you are communicating to me that we don’t deserve safety.”

Frank Rodriguez, who called himself an executive member of the anti-LGBTQ+ group Gays Against Groomers, said the Pride flag doesn’t represent him. He destroyed one while making his public comment to the council.

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