Irvine City Council voted Tuesday night to fly the flag of LGBTQ pride in City Hall every June, with Mayor Christina Shea the only vote against.
The decision comes weeks after the council unanimously decided for the first time to make June LGBTQ pride month. The flag will be hoisted from Harvey Milk Day on May 22nd to the end of June.
Both actions are in stark contrast to last year, when the city council rejected Councilor Melissa Fox’s proposal to fly the flag of pride in the town hall.
“The LGBTQ + community has fought for equality under the law for years,” said Fox, who introduced Tuesday’s article with Councilor Farrah Khan. “In many places in other communities, they are still exposed to hatred, violence and discrimination. But in our Irvine church this is a safe place, a place of acceptance and a place of equality. And I think we should announce that. “
Members of the LGBTQ community were happy with the council’s decision, although this year’s Pride Month only has about a week left. With the decision, Irvine will fly the flag of pride along with several Orange County cities including Anaheim, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa and Aliso Viejo.
Irvine Councilor Melissa Fox suggested last year that Irvine hoist the flag of pride at City Hall for Pride Month in June, but she was rejected. This year it’s over.
“Irvine is a huge part of the county and many of our supporters and board members live and work in Irvine, so this is a city that we are very attached to,” said Peg Corley, executive director of Orange County LGBTQ Center. “This support for the LGBTQ community and the celebration of diversity is definitely a step we’re excited about.”
Shea voted the same as last year.
“I think we have three flags that we fly,” Shea said. “We have 150 languages here in Irvine. It will be very problematic when every single group flies their flag throughout the year. We all signed the proclamation and our names are on this proclamation, but I will not support hoisting the flag of pride. “
Shea has been criticized in recent weeks for posting negative comments on Black Lives Matter protesters, as well as deleting comments and blocking supporters of the movement on Facebook. Several peaceful protests against Black Lives Matter have taken place outside Irvine City Hall since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody late last month.
Corley questioned Shea’s vote.
“With all the uncertainty that exists now that the country is divided in many different ways over social injustices, I think when we look at our leaders, we need people to lead,” Corley said of Shea. “And someone who’s the only no-vote for the governing body they lead… I think it’s unhealthy and it’s a sign that you don’t lead, you just vote on your personal bias path. This is not leadership. “
The council received more than 50 public comments from local residents on the matter.
“Our Irvine LGBTQ community continues to face discrimination and harassment, and we need our city tour to publicly support and empower all Irvine residents regardless of race, belief, orientation or gender identity.” resident Felicity Figueora said.
“I support the resolution to raise the flag of pride in Irvine in support of the LGBTQ + community,” said resident Jennifer Mirmak. “Exclusion from one excludes us all.”
While Corley saw approving the flag as a step forward for the city, she said Irvine has yet to overturn a city initiative denying anti-discrimination protection to lesbians and gays based on their sexual orientation.
This initiative, Measure N, was approved in 1989 when voters decided to remove lesbians and gays from Irvine’s human rights ordinance. Shea supported and advocated the measure but said today that she would not support such an initiative.
Khan said Thursday that she and Fox will bring the regulation’s repeal to the council at the next meeting.
“Repealing this obsolete and discriminatory regulation would be a perfect next step for Irvine,” Corley said. “As a forward-looking city, we’re looking for them to fix that.”
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