Dublin raises LGBTQ pride flag; council changes course after outcry | News | DanvilleSanRamon.com |

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Dublin raises LGBTQ pride flag; council changes course after outcry

City leaders unanimously approve flying the rainbow flag over the Dublin Civic Center for Pride Month in June

City leaders wasted no time Tuesday night raising the rainbow flag at Dublin City Hall, following several hours of public comment and lengthy City Council discussion about the importance of local government recognizing and supporting marginalized groups like the LGBTQ community.

With bright, multi-hued flags in hand, residents from Dublin and even as far away as San Francisco flew their colors at Tuesday's council meeting to support raising the rainbow flag on city property during Pride Month.

The flag later joined the American, state and city flags that evening in front of the Civic Center, shortly after the Dublin City Council unanimously adopted a policy permitting the display of commemorative flags by council vote.

"This is about uplifting a marginalized community," said Councilman Shawn Kumagai, who is openly gay.

Kumagai added that the rainbow flag "does have deeper meaning" to the LGBTQ population, saying, "The pride flag represents safety, inclusivity. You knew that when you went to that place that displayed that flag, that you could be yourself."

Dozens of people filled the council chamber, sporting rainbow-colored jackets, pins and stickers to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community in the wake of the May 21 hearing when the council unanimously declared June as Pride Month in Dublin and later voted 3-2 to not fly the rainbow flag in front of City Hall.

Mayor David Haubert, Vice Mayor Melissa Hernandez, and Councilman Arun Goel cast the opposition votes, citing concerns at the time about the absence of an official city flag policy.

That decision sparked outrage from residents who responded by launching a petition signed so far by nearly 800 people.

Haubert apologized to the community Tuesday night for not addressing some residents' comments made at the previous council meeting that many considered anti-LGBTQ, adding that some speakers were from outside Dublin and did not reflect the city's values.

A handful of people were opposed to flying the rainbow flag and argued that the city can't pick and choose which flags to fly without being unfair. But others said it was crucial for the city to back LGBTQ rights and show visible support.

Former Dublin school teacher Val Williams said during the meeting's public comment portion that "this city embraced me ... as well as my partner." Williams thinks that the city's new flag policy "does protect First Amendment rights, but I also think it supports the values and the standards of the vision of the city of Dublin."

The new flag policy requires a council vote to display any commemorative flags on the flag poles at the Civic Center, which is the only city property they can be flown on. No third party requests can be made to fly particular flags.

City attorney John Bakker said the policy was "carefully drafted to ensure any display of commemorative flags is government speech."

"You could have a scenario where if you opened up the flagpole to the public ... the flagpole could be considered a public forum," Bakker said. By limiting the use of the flagpole to government speech, Bakker said the city can avoid First Amendment and censorship issues.

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