Hamilton hesitates to fly Pride flag, fearing hate groups would want to display theirs

The Hamilton Pride organization wanted to fly this flag outside the city government tower, but officials wanted to create an official flag policy first, to protect against having to fly the flags of hate groups there. PROVIDED

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The Hamilton Pride organization wanted to fly this flag outside the city government tower, but officials wanted to create an official flag policy first, to protect against having to fly the flags of hate groups there. PROVIDED

Hamilton City Council on Wednesday approved a resolution supporting the city’s first-ever Pride event and said nobody should ever feel under attack for their sexuality.

But the city leaders did not agree to put up the Hamilton Pride flag on city property throughout the month of June. Officials said they first want to create a policy about what flags the city will display, to avoid being forced to fly flags of hate groups.

Taylor Stone-Welch, board chairman of Hamilton Pride, noted the organization planned to have its first-ever event last summer, but it was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hamilton Pride strives to create an open and safe environment for all to live and to express their authentic selves,” Stone-Welch said.

Council decided to remove part of the resolution that would have had the city fly the Hamilton Pride flag outside the city building throughout June, out of fear a hate group could take the city to court and force it to fly its flag.

“I don’t want a group that hates another group to fly their flag up there,” Vice Mayor Eric Pohlman said.

In past years, Cincinnati was forced against its will to allow the KKK to post one of its crosses at Fountain Square.

Pohlman also said he doesn’t believe any group should be able to have a flag there more than a week, to give other groups more options to have theirs flown.

On June 5, the first Pride event will happen at Marcum Park, beginning with a 11 a.m. march that will start at Rotary Park, across the bridge to Main Street and on to Marcum Park. The festival will run from noon to 6 p.m., with more than 40 vendors, games for kids and live music. A concert will follow, from 6-11 p.m. at the RiversEdge amphitheater at Marcum Park.

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This is the Hamilton PRIDE logo. PROVIDED

This is the Hamilton PRIDE logo. PROVIDED

Combined ShapeCaption
This is the Hamilton PRIDE logo. PROVIDED

The Pride month resolution “shows LGBTQIA+ Hamiltonians that their city supports them and celebrates the diversity that they bring to our community,” Stone-Welch said. “It’s especially important right now for our trans community, especially when they feel under attack in the current environment.”

“That bothers me that anybody in this city is under attack — any reason,” Moeller said.

Stone-Welch told him, “We have trans members of our committee, and I think they would use those words.”

“Under attack is something which should not be going on in this city,” Moeller said. Council changed the resolution to express that sentiment.

Jennifer Kephart told the council “it’s about acceptance and awareness,” and said LGBTQ youth are at a higher risk of suicide.

In a recent national study, 42 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously contemplated committing suicide, with the rates of transgender and non-binary youth “reporting over 50 percent,” with those who had access to affirmation reporting lower rates, she said.

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“What this says is that a simple act shows youth they are accepted in their community and literally saves lives,” Kephart said.

Council Member Carla Fiehrer after the vote received an assurance from City Manager Joshua Smith that staff will expeditiously create a flag policy.

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