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Pride Flag Raising Delayed at City Hall

Sanford City Hall

Photo: Zendelle Bouchard

By Zendelle Bouchard

Eagle-eyed residents may have noticed a delay in raising the rainbow flag symbolizing LGBTQ+ Pride at City Hall this month. The City Council voted 6-1 at its May 21 regular meeting to approve the request by Councilor Ayn Hanselmann to fly the flag for the month of June. Councilor Jonathan Martell was the only vote in opposition.

City Manager Steve Buck told the SSN that he was directed by the mayor to hold off on flying the Pride flag until the City’s flag policy could be reviewed to ensure the Council’s vote was compliant as an expression of official governmental speech. “The review confirmed that the City’s current Policy on the Display of Flags is legally compliant,” he said. Buck informed the members of the City Council’s Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee of this at its regular monthly meeting on the morning of June 11, and the Pride Flag was raised immediately thereafter. The City Council may consider amendments to the policy in the future, he added.

At the meeting, Subcommittee members Hanselmann, Mayor Becky Brink and Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy discussed the flag policy further. Herlihy noted that the City’s government speech could change as the composition of the Council changes. She expressed her concern that future councilors could use the policy to promote hate, and questioned whether it would be better to not hang extra flags at all. Brink said she was also concerned about that. Hanselmann pointed out that the Council’s May 21 vote could not be changed by the subcommittee and added that “we would be crippled today as a council if we worried about every action of future councils. We have to put faith in decisions we make today.” She said she supports the flag policy but has no objection to it being revisited at a future meeting of the full Council.

At its July 2 meeting, the Council is scheduled to review a request by Martell to fly the Gadsden flag at City Hall for Independence Day. The Gadsden flag is the yellow flag with a design of a coiled snake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” The flag was first flown by American colonists in the runup to the Revolutionary War but was resurrected by Libertarians in the 1970s and by the Tea Party movement in recent years as a political symbol.

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