The Gilroy City Council approved a flag-flying policy at City Hall on May 17, after its decision earlier this month to fly a flag in recognition of the LGBTQ community in June.
The council voted unanimously in favor of proclaiming June as LGBTQ Pride Month in Gilroy on May 3. But it was split on flying the Pride flag, with some members saying it could open the floodgates for any group to fly their flag at City Hall.
That prompted city officials to draft a policy for future decisions, which City Administrator Jimmy Forbis said was based on a similar policy enacted by the City of Morgan Hill.
According to the policy, commemorative flags on the city’s flag poles are approved at the discretion of the council, and serve as an expression of the city’s official sentiments.
The policy itself was unanimously approved by the council, but Mayor Marie Blankley voted against an amendment by Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz, which specified that the city would support a ceremony for the first raising of the flag.
Armendariz said the city would provide resources such as seating, a microphone and a city staff member to raise the flag for such an event to be held on the first business day of the corresponding month.
But Blankley expressed concern over the mention of a ceremony, urging that the events should be kept as simple as possible.
“The public can come, but the public means different sides,” she said. “The bigger deal you make it, the more you’re inviting controversy. It’s sad, but that’s the way it is.”
Armendariz said the policy is fair and inclusive to community members requesting a flag to be flown.
“When they’re asking for this, they’re asking for visibility, they’re asking for recognition, they’re asking to be seen as part of our community,” she said. “If it brings controversy, then so be it.”
On a motion from Blankley, the council agreed to allow only one commemorative flag to be flown at a time.
Joseph Galvan, a Gilroy resident who is the outreach coordinator of the LGBTQ Youth Space program, said he was disappointed the council wasn’t unanimous in support of flying the Pride flag at its previous meeting.
“There’s a rich community of LGBTQ elders who have lived a majority of their lives without any kind of recognition or celebration of their community here in Gilroy,” he said. “I would be really sad and disappointed if we didn’t use this opportunity to send a message to the community that you are seen and recognized and are worthy of being celebrated.”