Huntington Beach official seeks law change that would end raising of LGBTQ Pride flag

Huntington Beach raised the LGBTQ Pride flag at City Hall for the first time May 22, 2021.
Huntington Beach raised the LGBTQ Pride flag at City Hall for the first time May 22, 2021. On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss whether to restrict allowable flags to civic standards and the POW/MIA banner.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Huntington Beach City Council on Tuesday will consider whether to change its flag policy, potentially reversing a 2021 decision to raise the rainbow flag for six weeks each spring in recognition of LGBTQ Pride Month.

The discussion follows a request made by newly elected Councilman Pat Burns, who suggested the city draft an ordinance specifying only standards representing the United States, state of California, Orange County and city of Huntington Beach, along with the POW/MIA flag, be raised on city property.

“The City of Huntington Beach should avoid actions that could easily or mistakenly be perceived as divisive,” Burns stated in a staff report explaining his reasoning for the request. “[We] are one community with many different cultures and people. All are equally valued members of our community, and none are to be treated differently or discriminated against.”


Although Burns did not specifically mention the Pride flag, Huntington Beach Public Affairs Manager Jennifer Carey confirmed Friday the six-striped rainbow flag, a symbol of inclusion, is the only other banner approved by members of the council for civic display.

The city first hoisted the Pride flag on May 22, 2021— the birthday of former San Francisco supervisor and civil rights activist Harvey Milk, fatally shot in 1978 — after the City Council voted 6-0 in a May 3 meeting to keep the banner flying throughout the month of June to mark LGBTQ Pride Month.

The City Council voted earlier this month to fly the flag in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month.

May 22, 2021

Peter Levi, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of Orange County/Long Beach, in a comment submitted to the City Council Thursday urged officials to reject Burns’ ordinance proposal.

“Prohibiting the display of Pride flags because they are allegedly ‘divisive’ sends a dangerous message to the LGBTQ+ community and allies,” Levi wrote. “The change in Huntington Beach policy will actively send the message that they are not welcome here, that they do not belong, while emboldening extremists.”

It is unclear exactly when the city began flying the POW/MIA flag — which depicts a silhouette of a prisoner of war before a guard tower and barbed wire in white on a black background.

However, a 1992 article published in the Orange County edition of the Los Angeles Times reporting on the city of Orange deciding to fly the standard year-round, mentions Costa Mesa-based support group Vietnam Vets Reunited also approached several other cities, including Huntington Beach, which had agreed to fly the POW/MIA flag.

The City Council will meet Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Huntington Beach City Hall Council Chambers, 2000 Main St. #5.

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