Independence City Council Rejects Proposal To Fly The Rainbow Flag At City Hall
Independence Mayor Eileen Weir said the flag is a "powerful symbol" when it comes to making LGBTQ people feel safe in the city.
The proposal, which would also display rainbow flags on other municipal buildings, was defeated by a vote of 6-1.
Independence Mayor Eileen Weir said this is at least the second time she has brought a proposal forward to allow for the pride flag to be flown during the month of June.
“It's just a way of recognizing our values and our city about diversity, inclusion, equity and making people feel welcome, feel safe in our city,” Weir said.
Weir says after they created a diversity and inclusion task force in 2019, she thought the the council would be more receptive to the proposal this time around.
Second District Councilmember Brice Stewart, who opposed the proposal, said he’s against flying any flag other than official government flags, not specifically the pride flag.
“I don't think they should be flown on city buildings or properties. As a city, I don't think we should be favoring one organization, group, or movement over another,” Stewart said.
Weir says the city doesn't need to stay neutral about their support for the LGBTQ community.
She says out that the city has singled out various communities for support, including during Black History Month, Women's History Month, a recent statement condemning violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
She says not all of these communities have a representative flag, but if they did, she'd also advocate to fly them.
Third District Councilmember Michael Steinmeyer said he’d rather the city focus on more substantive initiatives towards diversity and inclusion that go beyond the pride flag proposal.
“I just want it to not be a hollow gesture. I really want us to look at diversity and inclusion in our city, and how we function and operate. And I don't think that just putting a flag up a pole does that for our city,” Steinmeyer said.
Inoru Wade, vice president of the Kansas City Center for Inclusion, said gestures like these are not just symbolic for the LGBTQ community.
“It has a vital meaning not only to be represented at an official, municipal government building, but also the additional representation of saying you're welcome here,” Wade said. “And what the council people did, regardless of their intention or not, was say, you're not welcome here.”
Weir says that while the symbol of the pride flag may not meaningful to everyone, it has been powerful to the members of the LGBTQ community that have reached out in appreciation of her displaying the pride flag outside her office.
She says she plans to reintroduce it next year as well — in addition to other efforts to embrace diversity and equity.
“There's real work to be done that goes well beyond flying a flag, and I certainly have not lost sight of that,” Weir said.