LGBTQ Pride flag flying at Lake County government complex

  • From left, Lake County Board member Julie Simpson, board Chair Sandy Hart and facilities Director Carl Kirar raise a rainbow flag at the county government center in Waukegan on Friday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride march.

    From left, Lake County Board member Julie Simpson, board Chair Sandy Hart and facilities Director Carl Kirar raise a rainbow flag at the county government center in Waukegan on Friday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride march. Courtesy of Lake County

 
 
Updated 6/26/2020 2:52 PM

For the first time, a rainbow flag symbolizing the LGBTQ community is flying at the Lake County government center in Waukegan.

The flag was raised about 1 p.m. Friday after the county board voted to display it through July 3 in Lincoln Plaza, which is on the west side of the county complex.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Board Chair Sandy Hart and member Julie Simpson championed the idea and helped raise the flag, which Hart had purchased and donated to the county.

County board member Marah Altenberg was among those who passionately spoke in favor of the display during Friday's meeting.

"We have to support inclusion," said Altenberg, a Buffalo Grove Democrat. "We have to support human rights. We have to support the idea that everyone is equal."

Board member Jennifer Clark noted the vote occurred on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation. The idea of flying the Pride flag at a government building "would have been met with outrage" not that long ago, said Clark, a Libertyville Democrat.

The flag's display coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first Pride marches in June 1970 -- one year after a police raid at a New York City gay bar called the Stonewall Inn triggered riots.

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The board also has recognized June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month.

Normally, the U.S., Illinois and Lake County flags fly on separate poles in Lincoln Plaza. The Pride flag will fly beneath the state flag.

Although the resolution to display the flag passed without opposition, some board members expressed concern they've opened the door for other people or groups to ask the board to publicly support their causes. And as Gurnee-area Republican Steve Carlson put it, some of those groups may have "odious" missions.

"There are going to be requests we don't like," Carlson said.

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