City of Downey is not flying Pride Flag. That’s not stopping LA County buildings

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

After the Downey City Council recently voted not to fly the Progress Pride Flag at city-owned facilities for Pride Month, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn Monday raised the LGBTQ+ symbol outside the county Office of Education in the city in what she intended, with her presence, as a symbolic rebuff to the council’s move.

“For the past three years, the Pride Flag has flown over your wonderful city, but a few weeks ago the city council narrowly voted, but still it was a majority, to end that practice,” Hahn, who represents the 4th District, which includes Downey, told those gathered at the morning ceremony.

A man interrupted Hahn’s remarks at that point, protesting her actions, but was shouted down by a chorus of boos before quieting.

“I am here today because I wanted to make sure that Mayor (Mario) Trujillo and … (Councilman) Horatio Ortiz know that we appreciate them being on the right side of history,” Hahn continued after the brief interruption.

Trujillo was among those who also attended the ceremony, along with county Assessor Jeffrey Prang, county Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

According to Hahn’s office, Progress Pride flags were hoisted at numerous county-owned locations on Saturday — the first day of Pride Month — including at seven other county facilities in Downey. Monday’s ceremony at the education office marked the eighth and final Pride Flag to be raised in the city.

The flag-raisings are part of the county’s marking of Pride Month, based on a motion introduced by Hahn last year and approved by the board. On Tuesday, Hahn and other supervisors will preside over a Progress Pride Flag raising at the Hall of Administration prior to the board’s regular meeting.

On May 14, the five-member Downey City Council voted 3-2 to adopt a “neutral” flag policy that limits which flags can be displayed on city-owned and maintained properties. Trujillo and Ortiz voted against the policy.

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“At the Downey City Council meeting on May 14, 2024, the City Council, by majority vote, and effectively immediately, moved to limit the flags flown on City-owned flagpoles to the following flags: (1) the United States Flag, (2) the California state flag, (3) the City of Downey flag, and (4) the Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) flag,” according to a statement from Axel Perez-Beltran, a spokesman for the city.

He added, “Supervisor Janice Hahn’s Pride Flag raising ceremony at the Los Angeles County Office of Education is sponsored by Los Angeles County at a county facility and, therefore, does not fall under the jurisdiction of the city of Downey.”

Downey Council Members Hector Sosa and Dorothy Pemberton, who voted in favor of the neutral flag policy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Councilwoman Claudia Frometa, who also voted in favor of the neutral policy, said in an email that she had no comment.

Hahn said the council’s vote was “painful” for many LGBTQ+ residents, but reminded people in attendance Tuesday that the county government “sees you.”

Prang, a former mayor of the West Hollywood and current president of the Los Angeles County LGBTQ+ Elected Officials Association, called the neutral flag policy an “egregious policy.”

He recalled that, when he first moved to California from Michigan in 1987, seeing the Pride flag raised it made him feel safe.

“Here’s the value for LGBTQ+ people, especially our young, will know that when they see these flags flown by government  — county government facilities across the 4,500 square miles that constitutes L.A. County — they will know that L.A. County is a safe and welcoming place,” Prang said.

The Los Angeles City Council last week updated its flag policy to allow the Progress Pride Flag at L.A. city facilities.

The Downey controversy over the Progress Pride Flag is not the first in the state.

In March, more than 58% of voters in Huntington Beach approved a ban on nongovernmental flags, including those for Pride Month, being flown on city property.

At least two California school districts, in Temecula and the Bay Area community of Sunol, have also banned Pride Flags.

The Progress Pride Flag was created in 2018 by graphic designer Daniel Quasar. It retains the common six-stripe rainbow design of the original gay pride flag, but adds black, brown, light blue, pink and white stripes to symbolize other marginalized people, including the Black and Indigenous communities and other people of color, and people who have died from or are currently living with HIV/AIDS.

The first Pride Flag debuted at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June 1978. At the encouragement of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person be elected to public office in California, artist Gilbert Baker designed the flag to symbolize the value and dignity of the gay community.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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