The city of Tracy will have a new flag policy. It’s in response to one council member’s request to fly the LGBT pride flag next Friday, with the council also mindful that any overall policy will have to address future requests to display flags at Tracy City Hall.

The resolution that the council unanimously adopted on Tuesday requires that any request to fly a flag on one of the three flagpoles in front of Tracy City Hall — other than the U.S. flag, the California flag and the city of Tracy flag — must come directly from a council member, and must be approved by at least four of the five members of the council.

In her report to the council, interim City Attorney Leticia Ramirez noted that the display of the U.S. and California flags is governed by federal and state regulations. The new policy notes that any commemorative or ceremonial flag can be displayed only on the pole usually reserved for the city flag, and a council resolution is the only way that display of a flag will be allowed.

On June 4, the council unanimously approved a resolution to display the LGBT pride flag after a request from Councilman Dan Arriola. A flag-raising ceremony will take place at 8 a.m. June 28.

The ceremony and display of the rainbow flag are in commemoration of the Stonewall rebellion, named for the incident at the Stonewall Inn in New York City on June 28, 1969, when a crowd pushed back against police oppression of gay people. The uprising is regarded as the start of the LGBTQ rights movement.

The council approved the new policy with only a few comments from the public. Alice English told the council that the city could expect to hear from more people wanting to display their banners in front of City Hall.

“We have got to be careful what we say about flags,” English said, “because once we’re setting precedents, OK. We’re going to do this for this community, we’re going to do this for this organization. If we’re going to raise flags for one, we need to do it for everyone.”

Tracy resident Manuel Zapata commended the city for acknowledging LGBT Pride Month.

“As a person with members of my family that are LGBT, I really want to thank you for moving this city forward,” he said. “It means so much to so many that are out, and gives a lot of hope to a lot of people that are not out and afraid to come out because the city hasn’t always been welcoming.”

Councilwoman Nancy Young said the policy could put council members in the position of deciding which individuals or groups they would or would not support.

“I don’t want anybody to be placed in a position where someone will come to any council member and say, ‘Well, can you fly this flag?’ For whatever reason. Then it seems to be very subjective. I can say, ‘No, I don’t like that,’ or ‘Yes, because I agree with you,’” she said.

Mayor Robert Rickman suggested that the four-fifths super majority on the council would make for a stronger statement when the council does consider flying a commemorative flag.

Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com or 830-4227.

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