Arlington Heights board again rejects flying Pride flag at village hall

  • Arlington Heights village board members decided Monday not to revisit their flag display policy.

      Arlington Heights village board members decided Monday not to revisit their flag display policy. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer, July 2021

 
 
Updated 5/18/2022 11:53 AM

Amid renewed calls to fly the Pride flag outside Arlington Heights village hall, village board members decided Monday not to revisit their flag display ordinance that effectively banned the rainbow-colored flag from flying there.

The debate resurfaced Monday night after Miel Johnson, president of the League of Women Voters of Arlington Heights-Mount Prospect-Buffalo Grove, asked the board during public comment to reconsider Trustee Nicolle Grasse's 2021 proposal to allow flags that have been recognized and flown by the federal and state governments -- including the Pride flag -- on one of the Sigwalt Street village flagpoles.

 

"We did discuss this throughly and carefully and fully," Mayor Tom Hayes said of the July 2021 debate that resulted in a 5-3 vote limiting flags to those of the United States, Illinois, the village and the National League of Families POW/MIA.

And, Hayes added, there was "insufficient support" among board members to reconsider the ordinance on the books.

But later in the meeting, Grasse asked whether her colleagues on the elected panel were open to having the discussion again, especially since Trustee Tom Schwingbeck wasn't present for the original debate and vote.

"I continue to hear from people in the community wanting us to revisit the conversation," said Grasse, who also brought up the issue at a February board meeting. "The only constant in life is change, and how we respond to it is part of what we do as a board."

That spurred Hayes to publicly take an informal poll of the elected panel on whether to reopen debate on the flag ordinance. Four of the nine board members -- Grasse, Mary Beth Canty, Rich Baldino and Robin LaBedz -- raised their hands.

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That mirrored the tally on Grasse's original amendment in July 2021. But when it failed 4-4, Baldino was the swing vote who supported the main ordinance to adopt the village flag policy.

The spontaneous deliberation Monday precedes a planned discussion and possible vote tonight on a flag display policy at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. Library board Trustee Debbie Smart, who in 2011 became the first openly LGBTQ person elected to public office in Arlington Heights, has proposed the rainbow flag be displayed for Pride Month in June.

If the library board approves, the Pride flag would be flown underneath the American flag on the lone pole outside the library's main entrance on Dunton Avenue.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the library's Cardinal Room and also will stream live on the library's YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/LibVlog.

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