Rainbow flag

(Photo - Benson Kua, Creative Commons)

The Dublin City Council unanimously approved flying the LGBTQ Rainbow Flag for 30 days. The flag will be flown from June 3rd until July 3rd, because the city missed the first two days of June, which is Gay Pride Month.

The council, the inaugural Dublin Gay Pride Committee and other residents in the audience trooped out of the council meeting before midnight to hoist the flag on the city pole, which is lighted.

There will be a formal flag-raising ceremony, tentatively set for June 22, when most councilmembers will be available for the ceremony.

The council heard from 31 audience speakers commenting on whether to fly the flag, with the overwhelming majority favoring it. Most of the LGBTQ supporters live in Dublin, as did the people who questioned the decision as favoritism, saying there is no need for the flag or the policy supporting it. The council approved the flag flying policy in a 5-0 vote before voting unanimously for the city to fly the LGBTQ flag.

About two dozen speakers addressed the policy, with most backing it.

In effect, the policy states that it is up to the council to make decisions about what flags may be flown on the city pole. The First Amendment covers only an individual’s free speech; there is an obligation with it to hear everyone’s point of view. However, when a local government makes a decision about a flag, that is the government carrying out its own decision. Not all points of view must be heard, said City Attorney John Bakker.

Most of the speakers from the audience also favored flying the flag, saying it proclaims their concern for gay people’s safety and community acceptance.

One speaker, who was not a supporter, said he will be back to make his requests for his favorite organizations, which include a police memorial day and the National Rifle Association, which he mentioned has been around for 148 years. He feels they are worthy of commemoration.

Dublin was the first, and so far only, community among the five Tri-Valley cities proposing to fly the LGBTQ flag, said Haubert in advance of Tuesday's meeting. Only six of 23 communities in the East Bay have flown the flag, none of them close to Dublin, he said.

News media based outside the Tri-Valley criticized Dublin for its insistence on developing a policy before making a decision about flying the Rainbow flag, said Haubert.

SCHOOL DISTRICT FLIES RAINBOW FLAG AT HEADQUARTERS

The Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) voted unanimously 3-0 at its meeting May 29 to acknowledge June as LGBTQ month. Board President Amy Miller read the resolution, which declares that all persons, including LGBTQ people, should have a safe work environment. The nation was founded on every person being created equal, each with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

According to the trustees, Superintendent Dave Marken was allowed to fly the flag at district headquarters. The rainbow flag was hoisted on the flagpole there beneath the U.S. flag on May 31. A brief ceremony was held that included Kumagai, Marken, Miller, Trustee Megan Rouse, and Councilmember Jean Josey.

During the board’s discussion about when and where the Rainbow Flag should be flown, the board’s attorney, Harold Freiman, was asked by Rouse whether the board needed to set policy first.

Freiman said, “There is no policy that says they can’t, and also no policy that says they should.”

Rouse said, I'm comfortable putting the flag on the pole and passing the resolution. When I read this, it really embodies what we are here for — to support our students and our staff.”

Trustee Dan Cherrier favored giving Marken direction to fly the flag, but he raised a question for Freiman, about selectiveness by the board. “Do we have to fly the flag of all groups if we fly the flag of one group? I don't think you want to be flying the flag for White Supremacy,” said Cherrier.

Rouse said, “This (LGBTQ) is not an interest group. It’s who we are,” a reference to the concept that people are born gay; it’s not a choice.

Freiman said, “There is a limited public forum concept, a constitutional free speech principle, usually at schools and school property. Once you open it, it makes it difficult for the next person. It’s always a slippery slope. If you can find a way to put it into the right basket, by opening the forum only to blank, for example only civil rights organizations, but even then, someone could say they are advocating for civil rights in a way people might find offensive.

“A classic example is once you fly a Rainbow Flag, then you have to fly the White Supremacy flag. We’d all say that makes no sense, but these are the things that get tested,” said Freiman.

“But you could say ‘no’,” said Miller.

“You could say ‘no’, but potentially end in court concerning whether you have opened it to one group, and denied it (the forum) to another. Then you are limiting access based on belief and speech,” said Freiman.

“But groups are different. This is a characteristic about how we are born,” said Rouse. She asked whether staff could come back to set a policy for future requests, “put some parameters on it, that don’t interfere with what we are doing tonight?”

Cherrier and Miller said they don’t want to spend district time and money researching the legal in’s and out’s.

City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai told a reporter that City Attorney John Bakker addressed that same question May 21, when the council discussed the flag issue.

“Individuals have First Amendment free speech, their right to voice an opinion, without being subject to limits. But there is case law that when you exercise government speech, a city can exercise viewpoints it wishes to express. It’s our choice, on the city’s viewpoint,” said Kumagai.

RALLY FOR LOVE IN LIVERMORE

Kumagai will be a guest speaker at the annual Rally for Love at the Bankhead Park Plaza from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on June 9.

Also on the program are Livermore Mayor John Marchand, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Alisha Shaik for Youth Climate, and Martin Padilla about immigration.