Pride flag raised at Newcastle City Hall after City Council reverses decision

Jun 19, 2024, 11:39 AM

Image: A person holds several small Pride flags during a recent event in Washington....

A person holds several small Pride flags during a recent event in Washington. (Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

The Newcastle City Council reversed their previous decision Tuesday night and elected to raise the Pride flag at City Hall. The council voted 4-3 after hours of public comment and debate.

Deputy Mayor Pratima Lakhotia flipped her vote to be in favor with the flag raising, after voting against it at the June 4 City Council meeting. The motion to fly the flag failed at that meeting.

“As a city, we decided not to do any proclamations this year because we did not want to leave out any minority groups. Our city is made up of many minority groups. We wanted everyone to feel equal,” Lakhotia said, according to KIRO 7. “A majority of Newcastle wanted this and I think as a council member, it’s my duty to, you know, respect the majority.”

For the last four years, the City of Newcastle has joined with cities across the state of Washington to hang a Pride flag for the month of June.

More on Pride in JuneCelebrate Seattle’s 50th Pride anniversary!

“It’s visibility, it’s pride, it’s a community. It’s the LGBT+ community, it’s a symbol of love,” Corrinalyn Guyette, president of the Eastside Pride Pacific Northwest, said, according to KIRO 7.

Supporters’ rally meets opposition

On Tuesday, dozens of members of the LGBTQ+ community rallied at Lake Boren Park to make their voices heard.

“When they’re not willing to raise that flag, it’s pretty much shutting out an entire community and we don’t feel supported,” Guyette said.

The crowds marched to Newcastle City Hall to speak out at the City Council meeting.

They were met with church groups waving the American flag.

“We have one flag and the other side wants equality and that’s what this flag represents,” resident Lance Davis said.

Crowds packed into the meeting, filling the room to its maximum capacity. The crowd even flowed into the hallways.

Several people made it clear they were in support of the council’s original decision not to raise the flag.

“A section of society doesn’t represent everybody. I like to be supportive of that which unites, rather than that which divides,” resident David Seely said.

‘If we raise one flag, we got to raise everybody’s flag’

On June 4, The Newcastle City Council voted 4-3 against raising the Pride flag over City Hall in support of the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month.

“If we raise one flag, we got to raise everybody’s flag,” Newcastle Mayor Robert Clark said during the City Council meeting at that time. “Do you want to Hamas flag flying over the city of Newcastle? Or a MAGA flag or a Trump flag? How about an Antifa flag? We’re not going there folks, not while I’m the mayor.”

Previous coverage: Newcastle not raising Pride flag over City Hall

The mayor followed up his comments made at the meeting with a prepared statement obtained by KIRO 7.

“If people want to celebrate pride month in their own way, I will cheer them on,” Clark wrote. “I will not, however, tell the rest of the community that they also must cheer them on and the government raising the flag would say that. I am aware that many people cannot (or will not) agree with me, but I am firm in my beliefs.”

Council member Paul Carbonneau, who proposed the Pride proclamation, said previously he didn’t rest easy after that earlier city event.

“I did not sleep very well the night after that council meeting,” Carboneau said, according to KIRO 7.

Carbonneau says despite his disappointment in those comments, he still believes that Newcastle is an inclusive community and wants to invite the community to a local Pride event on June 18th.

“We accept you. We love you for just the way you are,” Carbonneau said. “Just because we had elected leaders who said those things and decided not to raise the pride flag, that’s not how this community necessarily feels about that.”

Seattle has been raising the Pride flag over City Hall for the last 12 years. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell led the flag raising during an event on June 7.

Last year, Lake Stevens made a similar decision to the initial decision made in Newcastle. Mayor Brett Gailey failed to sign a proclamation declaring June as Pride Month in 2023, citing personal beliefs. He signed it during the first years of his term.

Contributing: Samantha Lomibao and Gwen Baumgarder, KIRO 7; Steve Coogan and Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest

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