Four Republican legislators, outraged that the ``gay pride'' flag has been flying over the state Capitol this week, are demanding that it be taken down immediately.
But state officials, responding to a letter sent to top legislators, said the flag will remain flying for now. The effort to remove it was led by freshman Rep. T.R. Rowe of Trumbull.
``The Connecticut General Assembly is representative of all of the state's citizens, many of whom have strong moral objections to the lifestyle for which this flag stands,'' the letter states. ``We should not permit the most symbolic flagpole in the state to be used as a purely political statement of a vocal but small minority.''
The rainbow flag, a universal symbol of gay rights, was raised Sunday at the Capitol as hundreds of gay, lesbian and bisexual people marked the start of a weeklong celebration.
The letter was sent to House Speaker Moira Lyons, D- Stamford, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin B. Sullivan, D- West Hartford. They said the decision to raise the flag was made by the Capitol police. Lyons and Sullivan said they would be open to reviewing the decision-making process regarding flags in the future.
Sullivan said the Republicans should follow the lead of Gov. John G. Rowland, who has ``called for us to be far more tolerant'' than in the past.
Rowland has been vacationing in Florida since the flag was raised, and his spokesman, Dean Pagani, said he had not talked to the governor about the letter.
``The governor's office wasn't consulted and never is,'' regarding which flags fly at the Capitol, Pagani said.
``To take that flag down would be a mistake,'' said Rep. Andrew M. Fleischmann, D-West Hartford. ``For many individuals who have known a lifetime of oppression, the raising of the rainbow flag was deeply meaningful. Removing it would be a slap in the face to those individuals.''
The state, Rowe said, lacks a coherent policy on the issue and should not be in the business of ``implicitly endorsing'' the views of any group whose flag flies above a government building. Rowe's letter was also signed by Republican Reps. Richard F. Ferrari of East Granby, Patricia T. Shea of Monroe and Kevin M. DelGobbo of Naugatuck.
``The government shouldn't be involved in it one way or the other,'' Rowe said in an interview Tuesday. ``The Ku Klux Klan should not be permitted to fly a flag. If we're going to allow the gay pride flag to fly, then we're opening the door to every other group with a political agenda.''
Lyons agreed with the concept, saying, ``Frankly, I would not want the Ku Klux Klan flag flying from my Capitol.''
Rowe was aware that gay rights groups would likely be upset with him, but said he was undeterred because his views are consistent with those of his Trumbull constituents ``and the silent majority'' on the issue.
``I feel it's absolutely wrong,'' said Rowe, who has also sponsored a bill to ban partial-birth abortion. ``If that hurts me politically, then so be it. It's very easy to go along and get along, but in this case, I'd rather not.''Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times