Des Plaines residents come out to support Pride flag's display at city hall

A dozen Des Plaines residents thanked city council members during Monday night's meeting for allowing the LGBTQ Pride flag to be flown at city hall.

Three audience members criticized the display, too. One of them called for a public referendum on the issue; another audience member, former Republican congressional candidate Susanne Atanus, made biblical references and disparaged members of the LGBTQ community despite attempts by city officials to silence her.

The comments came three weeks after the council changed city policy to allow the rainbow flag to be displayed for seven days in June. It was raised June 1 and lowered Monday.

The comments backing the flag's display came from members of the LGBTQ community and their supporters. They included several people who said it makes them feel good to see the flag flying, because it's a symbol of inclusivity and a welcoming community.

One audience member, Maine Township Trustee Kelly Horvath, suggested it should be displayed for all of June, not just a week, because June is considered Pride Month in the U.S.

The Pride flag now is one of 12 standards that can be displayed on city property without the specific consent of the city council. The others are: the official flags of the U.S., Illinois and Des Plaines; the National League of POW/MIA Families' flag; a firefighter memorial flag; a memorial flag for police officers; and the official flags of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines.

The rainbow flag became a political lightning rod in Des Plaines in June 2016 when it was flown at the city-owned library building after a deadly mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Then-Mayor Matthew Bogusz gave library board President Greg Sarlo permission to raise the flag.

The next month, the council enacted rules giving it the power to decide which flags can be raised over any site owned or leased by the city.

Current Mayor Andrew Goczkowski, Bogusz's successor, pushed for the policy change. He personally raised the Pride flag at city hall last week.

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