Pride flag will fly at Newcastle City Hall after the reversal of a vote initially against it

A controversial vote to not raise the LGBTQ+ Pride flag at Newcastle City Hall was reversed. City council voted 4-3 in favor of raising the flag for the remainder of June.

The shocking change comes after deputy mayor Pratima Lakhotia, who initially voted no, told Pride flag supporters she would change her vote.

"As such, I will be in favor of raising the Pride flag," Lakhotia said during a at Lake Boren Park.

Tuesday’s city council meeting was full of people, and even overflowed into the hallway as leaders heard public comment on the matter for 2.5 hours. Before the meeting, Pride flag supporters held a rally at Lake Boren Park and marched to city hall protesting the vote.

Newcastle Pride Flag Rally

"We will continue to come back, and we will fight the good fight to ensure that we are seen, heard, loved, and supported," said Corrinalyn Gyette, president of Eastside Pride Pacific Northwest.

During the June 4 city council meeting, leaders voted 4-3 in favor of not raising the Pride flag at city hall for Pride month this year.

"If we start raising flags, we got to raise everybody. We want a Hamas flag flying over the City of Newcastle, or MAGA flag? How about a Trump flag or an Antifa flag? We're not going there folks, not while I’m the mayor, I’m sorry," said Mayor Robert Clark during the June 4 meeting.

For several years, leaders have previously approved proclamations to raise the Pride flag at city hall. However, Clark said the only flag that should fly over the building to represent inclusivity is the American flag.

"If a city council or any place votes not to carry a flag other than the American flag, I stand with them," said Susan Powell who supports the vote. "I want to stand with anybody that's saying no to any flag."

During the Pride flag support rally at Lake Boren Park, deputy mayor Lakhotia explained the city decided this year not to highlight any minority groups and flags at city hall.

"We decided not to do any proclamations for minority groups because we felt that there are many, many different minority groups in Newcastle. And we did not want to single out anyone and exclude anyone," Lakhotia explained to the crowd.

The deputy mayor said that was her reason for voting against raising the Pride flag. However, she said careful consideration, communication and research gave her a change of heart and vote.

Others argued if one group is allowed the exception to raise their flag at city hall, it could open doors for conflict.

"What if white supremacists say we want our flag up there? Hamas say we want our flag up there? So, everybody has their flag up there, and then it evolves into chaos really quickly," said Owen G., a Newcastle resident. "When you start making a tribal thing become a law of the land and fly the flag over, it's only a matter of time that other tribes begin to pop up and eventually you devolve into anarchy which only ends up in chaos."

Countering chaos with a peaceful protest, flag supporters said they won’t be divided in their fight for Pride in their city.

"It takes bravery for people to show up at events like this, but people came out, they brought all their Pride colors," said Gyette. "To continue telling our stories because it doesn’t stop here."


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