Huntington Beach will mark LGBTQ pride by flying rainbow flag
The Huntington Beach City Council voted unanimously Monday night to fly the LGBTQ rainbow flag for six weeks each spring.
Additionally, the city will officially recognize June as LGBTQ Pride month.
The agenda item submitted by Mayor Kim Carr and Councilman Dan Kalmick passed 6-0, with Councilman Erik Peterson absent from the meeting.
Carr, who has spoken often about making Surf City a city of inclusion since she was appointed mayor last December, said she had received many emails in support of the measure. The flag will be raised at City Hall on May 22 each year — Harvey Milk Day — and stay up through the end of June.
Milk, the first openly gay person elected to California public office, was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors prior to his assassination in 1978.
“I think we here as a city need to continue to voice that we are a welcoming, inclusive community that embraces all,” Carr said.
At the meeting, Carr shared a paragraph from one of about 30 emails received in support of the item. Brandon Perkins, Huntington Beach planning commissioner, wrote that he decided to fly the Pride flag outside his home 20 years ago and immediately received a flood of support.
“What surprised me the most was hearing from neighbors I previously had assumed would not be supportive, who expressed their enthusiasm, and additional flags soon followed,” Perkins wrote in the email. “Huntington Beach needs these conversations to take place.”
Councilwoman Natalie Moser read a couple of letters, including one from a 12-year-old child who identifies as nonbinary.
The discussion changed the mind of Councilman Mike Posey, who said he came into the meeting against the idea of flying the rainbow flag during LGBTQ Pride month.
“We saw on social media that pursuit of social justice at the council level is not our job, and I have to disagree,” Posey said. “It is our job. Our job, first and foremost is managing the budget, managing public safety, managing public works, and at the same time insuring that our friends and neighbors and relatives have a high quality of life. Part of that high quality of life ... is knowing the welcome mat is out.”
Social media policies enacted
The City Council also unanimously voted Monday to establish a social media policy for elected and appointed officials.
Government representatives who use a social media platform to discuss, carry out or reference city issues have created a virtual public forum which necessitates 1st Amendment protections, City Manager Oliver Chi said in a presentation. The new policy would prohibit officials from blocking people or deleting comments on public social media accounts based on the person’s viewpoint or perspectives.
There is admittedly some gray area between differentiating between public and private accounts.
“It really depends on the level of activity and the nature of the activity,” City Atty. Michael Gates said. “Just because somebody might make a comment on their personal or private account about city-related business, that simply does not transmute it into a public account.”
Last summer, former Irvine Mayor Christina Shea was sued for blocking people on her Facebook account and deleting comments during a discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement. Irvine ended up settling for nearly $40,000 and also spent more than $80,000 in legal fees.
On the Huntington Beach City Council, Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz has drawn criticism for some of his Instagram posts and stories relating to masks and vaccines. During discussion Monday, Councilman Dan Kalmick again took issue with the posts.
“You’re commenting on vaccine policy, on COVID policy, which is something that falls under the purview of our city council because we have a vaccination program,” Kalmick said. “It can be confusing to folks if you’re operating and making those comments as the mayor pro tem of the city or you’re making those comments as Tito Ortiz.”
Ortiz said he considers his Instagram a private account but his Facebook account is public and he does not block anyone on that platform.
Having clarified his personal social media practices, Ortiz joined Kalmick and the rest of the council in adopting the new policy.
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