Gay Flag Flap Hits West Hollywood City Hall

In order to make West Hollywood friendlier to its non-LGBT community, officials are taking the rainbow flag off City Hall

By Kim Baldonado
|  Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014  |  Updated 6:23 AM PDT
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The gay pride flag has been removed from West Hollywood City Hall in an attempt to be more inclusive to all members of the community. But many question if the removal has gone too far. Kim Baldonado reports from West Hollywood for the NBC4 News Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.

Kim Baldonado

The gay pride flag has been removed from West Hollywood City Hall in an attempt to be more inclusive to all members of the community. But many question if the removal has gone too far. Kim Baldonado reports from West Hollywood for the NBC4 News Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.

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In the city of West Hollywood, you can find gay pride rainbow flags flying over private businesses, painted on the crosswalks at Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards, and even on the sides of the sheriff's patrol cars, but you won't find it flying over City Hall.

"The rainbow flag is an inclusive symbol of the fight for equal rights and that's why it belongs on City Hall," said Larry Block, a West Hollywood resident.

Block donated a rainbow flag to fly over City Hall in June for gay pride month.

The city then kept it up to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Proposition 8, but it was taken down last week after the City Council voted unanimously to fly only the city, state and U.S. flags on a permanent basis on city facilities.

"There are 14 rungs above City Hall,” he said. “There's room for plenty of flags to symbolize our diversity."

Block sees the decision as a turning point for the city, which has a long history of fighting for gay rights.

"It's an attempt to homogenize West Hollywood as big money, and developments come in and change the nature of our community to shed us of a little bit of our LGBT identity," he said.

"The city is 40 percent LGBT,” said John Duran, a West Hollywood City Councilman. “This is a gay cluster here. I don't think anybody's worried about West Hollywood losing its gay identity."

Duran said it was his idea to permanently place gay pride flags on the Santa Monica Boulevard median 13 years ago.

Now that four out of the five city council members are openly gay, Duran says it's important the city represent all the residents.

"With a supermajority of 4 out of 5, we could put gay pride flags all over this town and what would we be saying to the people who aren't gay and who live here?” he said. “So I think part of this is the political judgment to know when to flex your political power and when not to for what's best for the entire community, gay or straight."

The city will now rotate unofficial flags above City Hall. In November, it flew the transgender pride flag, and in May it will fly the POW/MIA flag to honor veterans.

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