Huntington Beach votes to ban Pride flags at city buildings

A woman speaks in front of the Huntington Beach city seal.
Activist Carol Daus speaks earlier this year in favor of continuing to fly the Pride flag in Huntington Beach.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

In a move seen as a veiled attempt to ban Pride flags, Huntington Beach voters approved an amendment to the city’s charter this week that barred the city from displaying anything other than a select few official government flags on city property.

According to the Orange County Registrar, 58% of the voters in the beachside city supported the amendment and 42% opposed it. Turnout was low — only 23% of the city’s registered voters headed to the polls.

The charter amendment bars the city from flying anything on city property but the city flag, the Orange County flag, the state of California flag and the American flag as well as some military flags and the Olympic flag.


While the amendment says nothing about the Pride flag, some saw it as a repudiation of the City Council unanimous vote in 2021 to fly the Pride flag for the month of June every year. Much has changed in the city since then, including the arrival of four conservative council members, whom voters swept into power with a different agenda in 2022.

Since their 2022 election, a conservative majority on the Huntington Beach City Council has pursued Pride flag bans, book bans and voter ID requirements. Some residents wonder what all that has to do with running a city.

Dec. 13, 2023

Dan Kalmick, a councilmember who opposed the change to the city’s constitution, said the ballot measure was put forward by the right-leaning City Council majority, which approved a similar ordinance last year to dictate which flags the city could fly on its properties. Unlike that ordinance, which could be overturned by a future City Council, the restriction adopted Tuesday can be changed only by another vote of the people.

“They flat-out said this is not about banning the Pride flag,” he told The Times. “They’re full of s—. Of course it’s about the Pride flag.”

Kalmick said he has sat through numerous council meetings about the flag issue, and that most people who showed up in support of the measure were there to speak specifically about the Pride flag.

The new charter amendment would require unanimous council approval to fly a flag that is not on the list of approved flags.

The councilmembers behind the changes say the city shouldn’t be taking political stances with the flags it flies.


“To me, it’s demeaning to the LGBQ [sic] community to fly that flag,” Pat Burns, a conservative councilmember, said in an interview Thursday. “Everybody has got something they can identify with, and I don’t believe it’s our government’s position to start playing those identity politics games.”

Huntington Beach will recognize Black History Month, Women’s History Month and other events in 2024, despite the City Council seemingly voting to the contrary.

Dec. 26, 2023

Peg Corley, executive director of the LGBTQ Center Orange County, responded, “The LGBTQ community is not a political statement nor a special interest. We are people who wish to live our lives without suffering hate or discrimination for who we are.

“The most recent Orange County hate crimes report documents a 125% increase in hate crimes and hate incidents against LGBTQ people. Cities can help reverse this dangerous trend with a public show of support such as flying the Pride flag during Pride month. The recent ban by the Huntington Beach City Council speaks volumes.”