Pride flags won’t fly at Orange County government properties, supervisors decide

The American, California, OCFEC and the LGBTQ+ flags fly over the O.C. Fair & Event Center administration building.
The American, California, OCFEC and the LGBTQ+ flags fly over the O.C. Fair & Event Center administration building in Costa Mesa in November 2020.
(Raul Roa / Los Angeles Times)
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Pride flags will not fly at Orange County government-owned properties after a vote Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors voted to permit only U.S. government and military-related flags to be flown at county properties, effectively barring Pride flags.

The policy, proposed by Supervisor Andrew Do, stipulates that only flags representing the U.S., state and county, as well as the flag for prisoners of war and military members missing in action, will be raised at county properties, including parks.


Supervisor Katrina Foley, who was against the measure, told The Times on Tuesday that the vote was “part of a larger picture of trying to coalesce a viewpoint together that is not about progress, not about a diverse, inclusive community, but holding on to some remnant of the past that isn’t really reflective of mainstream America.”

The measure was supported by Supervisors Do, Don Wagner and Doug Chaffee and opposed by Foley and Vicente Sarmiento.

Do, however, has said that his measure wasn’t motivated by a single social issue and highlighted his support for the LGBTQ+ community, according to media reports.

Foley said the flag measure was proposed after she and Sarmiento requested last week that the board agenda include consideration of flying the Pride flag at county buildings during the month of June. According to Foley, the request was rejected by Chairman Wagner, who said it was submitted past the deadline. Foley said, however, that requests submitted past deadline had been added to the agenda in the past.

“I don’t believe for a second,” she said, that the flag measure “wasn’t directly correlated to our request.”

Over the last year and a half, Foley said, the rhetoric at board meetings has become increasingly bigoted against the LGBTQ+ community.


Supervisor Wagner said the request “inexplicably came too late” for it to be automatically added to the agenda.

“Nevertheless, I still agreed to put the question on the agenda, as was demonstrated by the extensive discussion in the context of the motion by Supervisor Do,” he said. “The board took a vote and rejected the Foley/Sarmiento position after a robust debate.”

Supervisor Do didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

State Sen. Catherine Blakespear (D-Encinitas) also condemned the decision by the O.C. Board of Supervisors, saying it was a “clear message of disrespect and intolerance.”

“As Mayor of Encinitas, I endorsed the flying of the Pride flag at City Hall because it is important for government to show it is inclusive and welcoming to all the people it serves,” she said in a statement. “I am proud that Encinitas became the first city in San Diego County to do so.”

The Orange County vote came as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors — also on Tuesday — passed two motions aimed at improving the health and lives of LGBTQ+ people.

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Lindsey Horvath proposed a motion to improve gender-affirming healthcare services in the county. Solis and Supervisor Janice Hahn also created the first-ever LGBTQ+ Commission in L.A. County, which will make recommendations on new programs and policies to the Board of Supervisors.


The county has six months to form a new 15-member commission, which will be composed exclusively of people who identify as LGBTQ+, according to a motion.

June 6, 2023

“When there are more inclusive legislation and policies that are welcoming and recognize the impact and contributions of our LGBTQ+ community, there are significant positive impacts on someone’s overall health,” Solis wrote on Twitter about the vote.

Hahn, noting that the Board of Supervisors’ boardroom was decorated in Pride flags of all sizes, tweeted that, with the input of the new commission, “we’ll make sure that the County of Los Angeles can better serve & celebrate our LGBTQ+ community for decades to come.”

Proposals to permit and limit the raising of Pride flags come amid a contentious climate in which lawmakers have attempted to restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ communities by banning books, barring classroom discussions, prohibiting drag performances in public spaces, outlawing gender-affirming procedures or hormone replacement therapies for minors and prohibiting trans athletes from competing in sports.

Last week, a Pride flag flew over a Los Angeles County building — the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration — for the first time ever.

The Redlands City Council voted 3-2 last month not to fly a Pride flag because flying an unofficial flag violates city policies.

The Huntington Beach City Council also voted in February to limit where flags can fly on city property and to no longer fly the rainbow flag at City Hall.