Thoughts on city’s flag policy


On Feb. 27, the Delaware City Council discussed changes in its policy for flying flags and banners on city-owned poles. I am concerned that council may adopt guidelines specifically designed to avoid allowing Pride flags or banners to be flown on city poles during June, globally recognized as Pride Month. In my view, allowing such Pride displays in the policy wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for residents who vocally oppose such displays based on their religious perspectives or personal prejudices.

The initial policy council is considering (which excludes Pride displays) will save it the trouble of dealing with those complaints. If the council goes this route, it would be as if it is saying that there is a valid “other side” to equality issues, and that Delaware’s leadership doesn’t want to take a stand in determining which viewpoint is acceptable.

Homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism, like racism, antisemitism, or any other hate-driven -ism can only thrive when a community looks the other way when it is being expressed. Silence is consent for bigotry to thrive, and that silence provides a framework on which acts of intimidation and violence can build.

And that is exactly the problem with a lukewarm stand on inclusion. If the City Council’s attitude becomes “I don’t want to be bothered,” it would be giving a blanket invitation for uninformed people to keep voicing their prejudicial rhetoric. Their perception that they are supported — or, at the very least, tolerated — by Delaware’s leadership helps provide the kind of environment where LGBTQ+ people become the continued targets of escalating discrimination.

There is no other side to equality. There is no staying out of the fray when the issue of non-discrimination is being questioned. If the council wants our city’s new policy to reflect Delaware’s commitment to inclusiveness, it can do so by accepting requests for celebratory flags or banners to be flown on city poles from local groups, as long as they meet the following conditions: the applying organization must be a registered non-profit; it cannot be a religious or political group; and neither the group nor the flag or banner it proposes cannot promote any type of discrimination.

At the Feb. 27 meeting, some council members expressed concern about picking and choosing among organizations that would like their cause to be celebrated. A resident suggested an easy way to tease that out: Any group, occasion or observance commemorated by the city in an official proclamation would be eligible to have a banner flown during a designated time period if a local group meeting the above criteria requests it. It doesn’t seem like it would be difficult to include this wording in the final policy.

Delaware can be an open, welcoming, and diverse community. Allowing the flying of Pride flags or banners in June would be a move in the right direction to make it so.

Tony Marconi


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