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Downey, Calif., bans Pride flag on city property; L.A. County, state officials clap back

Author: Trudy Ring

The city of Downey, Calif. — a suburb of Los Angeles — has banned the display of Pride flags and many others on city property, apparently at the urging of an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group. But Los Angeles County and California officials are clapping back, along with some city leaders.

The City Council voted 3-2 in mid-May to allow only the U.S. flag, state flag, city flag, and the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag to be flown on city property, including City Hall, as reported by L.A. TV station KTLA and other outlets. Supporters characterized this as a “neutral” flag policy. Mayor Mario Trujillo and Councilmember Horacio Ortiz were the dissenting votes. Both are members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Previously, Downey allowed “commemorative flags” for certain historic events or causes to be flown on city property if approved by the council, but that will no longer be the case. The city first flew the Pride flag three years ago, KTLA reports.

The move to ban the Pride flag came at the behest of a few people affiliated with MassResistance, a Massachusetts-based anti-LGBTQ+ group that has a California chapter, Trujillo said. When the city first flew the Pride flag, it drew immediate opposition from Downey MassResistance members.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a progressive watchdog organization, has classified MassResistance as a hate group. MassResistance “continually links homosexuality to pedophilia, violence and disease and links trans women to sexual predators,” according to SPLC.

“Their two goals are basically anti-immigration and anti-Pride flag, let’s just be clear,” Trujillo, Downey’s first out gay mayor, said at the meeting shortly before the vote was taken, KTLA reports. “And it’s unfortunate that it was brought about through this hate group who hides behind religion. These are the same families and parents who are prone to kicking out their child who comes out to them. It strikes me as hypocritical when you come here and quote the Bible to try and eradicate the flag.”

Councilmember Claudia Frometa denied that limiting the flags to be flown was “a direct attack to the LGBTQ community.” But state and county officials are condemning the restrictions.

“As someone who has always believed in the importance of inclusion and representation, it’s disheartening to see the Downey City Council adopt a neutral flag policy,” former Downey Councilmember and now California Assemblymember Blanca Pacheco told the Los Angeles Blade. “When I served as mayor pro tem, we took a step forward in recognizing and celebrating the diversity of our community by flying the Pride flag. While I respect differing opinions, I believe that embracing diversity strengthens our community and fosters a sense of belonging for all residents. I remain committed to promoting equality and acceptance in Downey and elsewhere.”

“It just doesn’t make any sense for the leaders of a community that has been supportive of their LGBTQ+ constituents in the past to now adopt what appears to be a mean-spirited measure,” Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang told the Blade. “At a time when we need to come together as a society more than ever, this can only serve to create division and discord where there was none.”

L.A. County will continue to fly the Pride flag at its properties, including those in Downey. County Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose district includes Downey, will join Trujillo, Prang, and others in hosting a flag-raising ceremony Monday at 10 a.m. at the Los Angeles County Office of Education in Downey.

“There will be pride in Downey this June,” Hahn said in a press release. “Despite the recent vote by the Downey City Council, I want our LGBTQ+ Downey residents to know they belong and that they are not only accepted but celebrated.”

“We may have lost this battle, but we will win the war for fairness, equality and acceptance for all,” Trujillo said in the release. “This vote was a setback, but I appreciate Supervisor Hahn for her support of the LGBTQ+ community and for making sure the Pride flag will rise in Downey in 2024.”

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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