Redlands For Second Time This Year Says No To Flying Gay Pride Flag At City Hall

For the second time this year, the Redlands City Council has turned back requests that city premises be used as a forum for promoting gay pride. In a 3-to-2 vote at the September 5 council meeting, the five council members replicated their rejection, by a similar margin, not to display the rainbow flag, considered to be a symbol of pride and affirmation among those within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) community.
In May 2019, the Redlands City Council, inspired by Denise Davis, whose openly celebrated lesbianism was a central tenet of her successful 2018 campaign for city council, officially declared June as “Pride Month” for the LGBTQ element of the city’s population.
Davis was reelected in 2022, but has developed a somewhat testy relationship with three of her council colleagues, those being Mayor Eddie Tejeda and councilmen Paul Barich and Mario Saucedo, particularly because of her continual emphasis on social issues traditionally beyond the focus of local government rather than the land use, financial and municipal operational matters the council typically deals in. In some measure because of the Davis’s targeting of the gay rights recognition issue and the tactic of driving others supporting local government’s prioritization of explicit references to lifestyle tolerance, former Councilman Mick Gallagher and now Tejeda, Barich and Saucedo have adopted the view that such social commentary is beyond the purview of local government, bordering on being a political stance. That attitude played into the 3-2 vote in early May to have the city opt out of flying the Pride Flag this year during June, which is designated as “Gay Pride Month.”
That item had been originally introduced at the March 21 council meeting in the form of a “Flag Display Policy,” which called for designating municipal property as a “limited public forum” rather than the previously designated “nonpublic forum,” thereby clearing the way for the Redlands Civic Center and City Hall to be used as a venue for members of the public /community to express their sentiments. Tejeda, Barich and Saucedo came to the conclusion in May that it was proper to fly the U.S., California, Redlands and military flags such as those relating to soldiers missing in action on city property and that all other types of flags carried with them political statements that implied either official city endorsement or called for a counterbalancing  display of standards of contrasting or dissenting sentiment, which could potentially lead to an impractical strain upon available space, not to mention unwanted expositions of hostility between differing political factions. Davis and Councilwoman Jenna Guzman-Lowery in May voted in favor of having the rainbow flag fly at City Hall.
On August 18, Laura Ann Carleton, who had worked in the fashion industry in Los Angeles and Hollywood during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s before moving to the outskirts of the Lake Arrowhead Community of Cedar Glen in the San Bernardino Mountains where she opened a clothing store, was shot and killed by Travis Ikeguchi, allegedly after Ikeguchi made what were termed “homophobic” remarks to her based upon a rainbow flag she had displayed in front of her store.
Davis seized upon what had occurred to Carleton, noting she was an indefatigable ally of the LGBTQ community, and called upon those in Redlands to stand in solidarity with her by making an exception to the decision against flying the rainbow flag in May by flying the rainbow flag outside of Redlands City Hall for one week. Doing so would align with Priority C relating to equity and inclusion contained in the Redlands Strategic Plan, Davis asserted.
Mayor Tejeda, Barich and Saucedo, however, say what Davis was asking for as a back-door or side-door attempt to compromise the principle established in the May vote of excluding political statements from city premises. After a show of support for Davis’s proposal by members of the LGBTQ community, the item failed to gain passage with Tejeda, Saucedo and Barich in opposition and Davis and Guzman-Lowery voting yes.

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