West Hollywood City Hall Removes Rainbow Flag, Sparks Outrage
Officials in West Hollywood's City Hall have taken down its rainbow flag, sparking outrage in one of America's most prominent gay neighborhoods, NBC 4 Southern California reports.
In June, West Hollywood resident Larry Block donated a gay flag to City Hall for gay pride month. The city kept the flag hanging to celebrate the Supreme Court's ruling on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. It was taken down last week however, after the City Council voted unanimously to fly only city, state and U.S. flags "on a permanent basis on city facilities," NBC 4 writes. It should be noted that four out of the five city council members are openly gay.
"The rainbow flag is an inclusive symbol of the fight for equal rights and that's why it belongs on City Hall," Block told the news station. "There are 14 rungs above City Hall. There's room for plenty of flags to symbolize our diversity."
Block adds that he believes the decision was a critical move for the city, which has a history of fighting for LGBT equality.
"It's an attempt to homogenize West Hollywood as big money, and developments come in and change the nature of our community to shed us of a little bit of our LGBT identity," he said.
John Duran, a City Councilman for West Hollywood, told NBC 4 that 40 percent of West Hollywood is made up of the LGBT community.
"This is a gay cluster here. I don't think anybody's worried about West Hollywood losing its gay identity," he said, adding that he wanted to permanently add the gay pride flags on city property 13 years ago.
"With a supermajority of 4 out of 5, we could put gay pride flags all over this town and what would we be saying to the people who aren't gay and who live here?" he said. "So I think part of this is the political judgment to know when to flex your political power and when not to for what's best for the entire community, gay or straight."
According to the Los Angeles TImes, Duran also said, "It's not just a city of gay men. It belongs to heterosexual people as well, and City Hall belongs to everybody in this community, gay or straight, and let's not ever give the impression that City Hall has become exclusive to only one part of the West Hollywood community."
NBC 4 reports city officials will rotate "unofficial flags" above City Hall, noting in November a transgender pride flag was highlighted.
"West Hollywood is a beacon of hope for gays and lesbians throughout the world," Block is quoted saying in the L.A. Times. "When tourists come into town, they're so proud of the fact that we're that special place for the LGBT community. ... The rainbow flag is an inclusive symbol, not exclusive."
He also suggested that the flag was taken down for political reasons as Duran is running for county office. Block said he is running for West Hollywood City Council in 2015.