Connecticut Town Mulls Dropping ‘Pride Flag’ Because of Christian Flag Court Case In Boston

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A Connecticut town might stop flying the so-called Pride Flag supporting homosexuality and transgenderism in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Christian flag ruling this past spring.

Members of the town council of Wethersfield are considering restricting the display of flags outside town buildings to the U.S. flag, the state of Connecticut flag, the Wethersfield town flag, and the POW-MIA flag.

The town ordinarily flies the Pride Flag in June. The town also for a time flew the Ukraine flag after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

No council members argued against the Pride Flag during a discussion earlier this week, but some said the town might need to stop flying it to make sure it doesn’t have to fly a flag that town officials would find objectionable.

One town council member described the problem as wanting to avoid flying “a flag I might abhor” and “something really gross.”

“We’re a council that gets together. I’ve been on councils that have not gotten along so well. And we certainly could have a councilor that sits up here that wants to promote a particular vision. And most of the time it’s easy with the easy flags. Like, I certainly support the Pride Flag. But then, those are the easier ones, right? But what if we got into a gray area very quickly and very easily? And then we’re put in a position, we’re setting ourselves up, where it’s a position of fight. And that’s not what we do. We can disagree. But I think that setting up a political fight, even at the national level, I just still don’t think is a good idea,” town council member Matthew Forest said during the council meeting Monday, November 21.

Another council member, Kevin Hill, expressed concern that the Pride Flag, also known as the Rainbow Flag, might no longer fly outside town hall.

“Under this scenario, you know, that LGBTQ community is kind of left out here,” Hill said.

But another council member suggested the American flag is inclusive.

“The last time I checked, the American flag, you know, included everyone regardless of sexuality, identification, or anything like that,” town council member Shelley Carbone said. “If you’re an American it represents you.”

Wethersfield is a town of about 27,000 in central Connecticut just south of Hartford. In the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden won the town 59 to 39 percent over Donald Trump.

Council members did not resolve the matter on Monday, deciding instead to take it up at a future meeting.

The town council’s discussion stemmed from a court ruling earlier this year over a flag-raising dispute in Boston.

In 2017, the city of Boston refused to allow Hal Shurtleff and Camp Constitution fly what is known as the Christian Flag on a flagpole outside Boston City Hall, even though city officials had allowed dozens of other flags to be flown there at the request of individuals and private groups. City officials said they were worried that flying a flag with a religious theme would violate First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits government from “establishment of religion.”

But the U.S. Supreme Court in May found that the city of Boston violated another part of the First Amendment – freedom of speech.

“When the government encourages diverse expression — say, by creating a forum for debate — the First Amendment prevents it from discriminating against speakers based on their viewpoint,” wrote then-Justice Stephen Breyer for the court, which decided the case 9-0 in favor of Shurtleff.

The case is called Shurtleff v. City of Boston.

The court decided that government can control messages it sends as part of government speech, but that once it opens up public forums to community expressions, it must not dictate what can and can’t be expressed.

The City Hall Plaza flag-raising program in Boston, the court decided, “does not express government speech.”

“As a result, the city’s refusal to let Shurtleff and Camp Constitution fly their flag based on its religious viewpoint violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment,” the court said.

The Christian Flag is mostly white with a red cross on a blue field in the upper left corner. It was designed in the early 1900s to represent Christians. Several Protestant denominations use the flag.

The Christian Flag was raised outside Boston City Hall during a brief ceremony on August 3.

The city of Boston earlier in November agreed to pay $2.125 million in lawyer’s fees to the lawyers who represented Shurtleff in the case.


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