Do all flags matter? Half of the Gilroy City Council thinks so, flagging concerns of inequality as the city made history raising the LGBTQ Pride Flag for the first time June 1—joining a slew of municipalities that hoist rainbows up government flagpoles during June.
The flag raising barely scraped through in a 4-3 vote May 3, after Mayor Marie Blankley and Councilmembers Dion Bracco and Carol Marques called the decision “divisive,” questioning which groups can fly flags alongside the LGBTQ community. What about the NRA? Blue Lives Matter? Black Lives Matter?
Marques was one of the loudest opponents, airing grievances on Facebook that the policy will somehow expose the City of Gilroy to civil liability.
“While I have many friends who fall into this category, I felt we needed to stay neutral and not fly any group’s flag at City Hall other than our government flags,” Marques wrote. “We are on a slippery slope now, and I think a ‘can of worms’ has just been opened.”
Social media grumblings, nasty phone calls and threatening, Stalin-quoting emails broadcast tone-deaf, out-of-touch and dangerous perspectives, but Marques’ opinion was almost entirely denounced by fellow politicos and constituents.
Amid a slew of comments of disappointment from big names in BAYMEC and the Stonewall Democratic Club, many residents also highlighted how Marques wasn’t elected to represent their voices; she filled a prematurely open council seat in 2018, and secured a four-year appointment to yet another empty position in 2020, despite losing the November election.
The historic day left some virtually kicking and screaming, illustrating how Gilroy remains decades behind many neighbors: notably, San Jose’s first (brief) proclamation was June 1978, until former Councilmember Ken Yeager ensured the gay pride flag returned in 2001 for good.