Gay Pride Flags Flying in the Nation’s Oldest City

It’s official. A federal court enacted a temporary restraining order to allow gay pride pride flags to fly downtown in the nation’s oldest city. (See above.)

St. Augustine Record:

Local gay pride groups have the right to fly their flags on the Bridge of Lions starting today, a district court judge ruled Tuesday. The 49 rainbow gay pride flags will fly today through June 13th on the Bridge of Lions for St. Augustine Pride’s annual event this weekend.

After three years of the City Commission denying Gays the right to fly the rainbow gay pride flag on the bridge, St. Augustine Pride Committee and others filed a suit Monday against the city, the mayor and other administrators…

U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams of Jacksonville, granted the temporary restraining order on Tuesday afternoon…

The City Commission had denied the flying of the pride flag on the bridge because the majority of its members voted that it did not represent a “historical landmark or event in the city,” the criteria for approval.

In his ruling, the judge said the City Commission’s argument did not apply because the city has given permits in the past for groups to fly flags on the bridge that did not have “historical significance associated with the city.” He specifically cited Flagler College, which was founded in the 1960s.

He also said the Gay Pride group would “suffer irreparable harm and loss” if they were prohibited from flying its (sic) flag during the week of the annual gay pride celebration.

City Commissioner Errol Jones said he is concerned that the judge’s ruling will open a “Pandora’s Box.”

“Tomorrow, we could get an anti-gay group wanting to fly their flag,” Jones said. “I don’t want to be expressing everyone’s personal opinion” with flags flying on the bridge. “We could end up flying flags every week. That’s not appropriate for the city or the bridge.”

I am a little conflicted on this. I do not believe the mayor and fellow commissioners are acting from homophobia. I campaigned for the mayor, one of the last Democrats in public office in these parts. He is also my neighbor and our dogs play together at the dog park. That said, I’m glad the flags are flying.

On the other hand, Randall Terry, anti-abortion terrorist and possible candidate for state senate, lives in nearby Ponte Vedra. I would prefer not to have right-to-life or similar flags flying (especially for an obnoxious publicity stunt) but, as we used to say before Bush took office, I guess it’s a free country.

I doubt this will be the end of the story locally. I have a feeling before the day is out, some marriage-is-only-for-straight-people clam diggers will be holding a protest. Expect more coverage soon.


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