In June of 2021, the Delano City Council voted and approved the raising of the LGBTQ+ Pride flag at city hall. Pride advocates campaigned for the approval and cheered as the council voted 3-2 to approve the decision.
However, that took place nearly 2 years ago. Sentiments, opinions, and members of the council itself have changed since then. On March 20, the Delano City Council ultimately decided to reverse the previous policy that allowed the LGBTQ+ flag and other flags to fly.
In a 3-1 vote, the city council reversed the previous policy. The new policy would prohibit any non-governmental flags from flying at city hall. Council member Veronica Vasquez was the only council member who voted in favor of keeping the policy as is. Council members Mario Nunez, Liz Morris, and Mayor Joe Alindajao all voted to change the policy. Council member Salvador Solorio-Ruiz was absent.
Emotions filled the chamber at city hall as voices and opinions were being echoed. Members of the community such as LGBTQ+ supporters and local pastors were in attendance. People from both sides of the controversial issue spoke up during public comment and gave their opinions.
Although the Pride flag was of heavy discussion when the flag policy was being discussed at the council meeting, it is important to note the discussion of the thin red line firefighter flag that was also brought up several times. The council voted to fly the flag back in April of 2022 in honor and support of firefighter Ramon Figueroa. Figueroa, a Delano resident, lost his life while on duty to due a fire incident in Porterville back in early 2020.
Reversing the flag policy would not only prohibit the LGBTQ+ Pride flag from flying but the thin red line flag in support of firefighters as well.
Anne McBride, a local community member, and former Delano Joint Union High School District (DJUHSD) school board trustee candidate gave her opinion on the matter.
“I feel like flying flags that represent certain subgroups of American citizens only serves to exclude and separate other subgroups. And it also serves to promote one subgroup over another subgroup” stated McBride.
Although McBride was not alone in expressing a desire for a change of policy, many members of the echoed their voices and gave their reasons as to why the flag policy should have remained as is and not be changed.
Importantly, one member of the public gave their reason as to why it should have remained. That being former Mayor and Council member Bryan Osorio. Osorio served as Mayor of Delano when the approval of the Pride flag took place and was one of 3 members of the city council who voted to approve of the flag. He gave public comment on the issue.
“I think folks acknowledge the significance of the pride flag…they’ve already mentioned how to them it means a city that is welcoming, a city that’s values are showing diversity and inclusion and while it is symbolic it means a lot to folks,” said Osorio. “For me, it comes down to what we want to send a message to in terms of our young people, in terms of older community residents who want to create a more welcoming and safe space for residences.”
Osorio also spoke to the thin red line flag.
“It becomes this slippery slope of what flags can you allow to fly out there and that became a very valid argument. To me, the way I justified the thin red line flag was…if flying this flag was going to bring closure to the community [and] respect that fallen firefighter’s memory, then I was on board with that,” said Osorio.
With the new policy, Delano now becomes only the second city in California to prohibit the flying of such flags. The first is the city of Huntington Beach, which reversed its flag policy back in February of this year.
The Delano city council will vote on the future of flying flags again in April to approve or deny the new policy. If said new policy were to be passed, flags such as the LGBTQ+ Pride flag and the thin red line flag can no longer fly in Delano city hall.