DELANO, Calif. (KGET) — There was controversy in Delano following a vote by the city council to remove the Pride flag from government flag poles.

The preliminary vote makes Delano the second city in California to prohibit the Pride flag on government property. With this newly proposed policy, the Pride and firefighter flags will be coming down.

Delano’s Monday night city council meeting was filled with residents split down the middle between keeping or changing the city’s flag policy.

To put it simply keeping the policy the same would keep the Pride flag up on the flagpole between June 1 through the 13 but changing the policy would mean that flag would never go back up on government property in the city.

“The ordinance was first brought up two years ago and it was brought up again now. I’ve always thought that it was bad public policy,” Delano Mayor Joe Alindajao said.

Mario Nunez, Liz Morris and Delano Mayor Joe Alindajao voted in favor of a policy change while Veronica Vasquez voted against it. Mayor Pro-Tem Salvador Solorio-Ruiz was absent.

The only flags that will be flown are the U.S., California and POW flags. That means the flags supporting firefighters and the LGBTQ community will not be used anymore.

“The reason I voted yes is because the American flag covers us all. One thing I disagree with is everybody is trying to make it a pride issue, it’s got nothing to do with the firefighter flag,” Mario Nunez Jr. Delano city councilman said.

“I believe that the United States flag stands for freedom, justice and everyone. It’s for everyone in the United States, no matter what color you are, no matter what race you are, what gender you may be,” Liz Morris Delano city councilwoman said.

The city of Delano’s City Council members will be coming back in April to vote on and approve the new flag policy. If this passes then the Pride flag and firefighters flag won’t be going up on any government property in Delano anymore.

The Dolores Huerta Foundation released a statement regarding Delano City Council’s vote.

With the rise of anti-LGBTQ2S+ legislation nationwide, the decision made yesterday by Delano’s City Council to not fly the PRIDE flag during the month of June is a clear sign of the homophobia and transphobia that still is very much present in the Central Valley. We know that our loved ones who identify with this community are widely marginalized and heavily oppressed, which is why the Dolores Huerta Foundation makes it a priority to support and advocate for our LGBTQ2S+ community and family members. Central Valley LGBTQ2S+ youth are reading headlines of anti-LGBTQ2S+ bills being passed in Tennessee, Texas, and Florida. These anti-LGBTQ actions and rhetoric are still very much present in their hometowns, and what happened last night in Delano shows it.
As a community, it’s important for us to think about how these decisions are not only affecting their rights to bodily autonomy and gender-affirming services, but also their mental health. The LGBTQ2S+ community has some of the highest rates of suicide, depression, and anxiety. By not allowing the flag to fly during the month of June, a month full of joy and celebration for LGBTQ2S+ people, shows that the current elected officials in Delano are willing to erase the narratives and experiences of LGBTQ2S+ people of not only those who call Delano their home, but of also its visitors. This decision will only make living in their true identity and true expression even more difficult and it’s just heartbreaking to know that by not flying a symbol of love and inclusivity, our lesbian, gay, transgender, two-spirit, and non-binary communities feel hate. We understand there is criticism surrounding not being able to put a flag up for every issue or for every community, but we feel that society owes it to Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ2S+ community members to be highlighted, celebrated, and openly loved to even begin to make up for the horrific historical events that have and are still impacting them in detrimental ways.
In CA, there are currents bills, like Safe and Supportive Schools Program (AB 5, Zbur), TGI Empowerment Act (AB 957, Wilson), Safe Haven for Abortion and Gender-Affirming (SB 36 Skinner), and All-Gender Restrooms For K-12 Students (SB 760, Newman), that community needs to advocate for so that LGBTQ2S+ people receive and have access to strengthen rights, protections, and support. We know that by lifting up the most marginalized, all of our communities become uplifted, more whole, and more supported.

The Dolores Huerta Foundation