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Gilroy
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September 26, 2021

Pride flag to fly over Gilroy City Hall

Some council members question ‘divisive’ proposal

A rainbow flag will fly at Gilroy City Hall in June in recognition of LGBTQ Pride Month.

Some Gilroy City Councilmembers on May 3, however, wondered if that decision would open the floodgates for others that want to fly their flag at the building.

The council voted unanimously in favor of proclaiming June as LGBTQ Pride Month in Gilroy. But it was split on flying the Pride flag, with Mayor Marie Blankley and Councilmembers Dion Bracco and Carol Marques dissenting.

Councilmember Fred Tovar brought the idea of raising the flag to the city council at a previous meeting.

“The purpose of this is to acknowledge the LGBTQ community and to let them know how much we appreciate them,” he said. “It’s to make a statement that we value them here in Gilroy.”

The city also received letters of support from Assemblymember Robert Rivas and Senator John Laird.

But Tovar said he’s received “really nasty emails” from some residents regarding his proposal.

“It’s unfortunate that some individuals have beliefs that are shallow,” he said.

Bracco said he supported the proclamation, but he saw the flag as a “very divisive issue for our community” after receiving a number of phone calls and emails from angry residents.

“You’re going to have to give everybody the same right to hang a flag at City Hall: the NRA, Blue Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter. Everybody gets a shot,” he said. “I see it as causing nothing but problems.”

Blankley said she had no objection to flying the flag, but the city cannot “fly an unlimited number of flags.”

“While this cause is a very good one, so are so many others,” she said. “I am not comfortable opening up a door that will then lead us to spending council time every time we have a request to fly a flag.”

While City Administrator Jimmy Forbis said officials rarely receive requests to fly a flag at city hall, a flag-flying policy is expected to be considered by the council at a future meeting.

Further relief funds approved

The council agreed to allocate an additional $422,085 in federal funds toward continuing a rent relief program, small business grants and meal distribution for seniors.

The city received the additional funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as CARES.

According to Program Administrator Maria De Leon, the $150,000 in funding for the first round of a rental assistance program with St. Joseph’s Family Center dried up within a few months. An additional $137,309 will go toward families on a wait list, she said.

The $125,000 available for small business grants, organized by the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, was used within two months, according to De Leon. That program will receive another $100,000.

A meal distribution program for homebound seniors will also receive a little more than $100,000 in additional funding. 

An administration fee of $84,417 is also included for grant oversight.

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