GILROY (KPIX 5) – For the first time in the city’s history, Gilroy is flying the Pride flag outside City Hall, but not without controversy.
“We’ve never had commemorative flags in Gilroy, our city hall has the United States flag and the California flag,” said Mayor Marie Blankley. “I don’t think it should be flown at City Hall. It could be flown in a million other places all over the city.”
Blankley along with two other council members, including Carol Marques, voted last month against a commemorative flag policy.
The council voted unanimously to declare June Pride month, but when it came to a proposal to fly the Pride flag at City Hall, there was a difference of opinion. It barely passed with a 4-3 vote.
Marques explained on her Facebook page her stance against voting against the proposal, in part, writing: “Now that the door has been open in flying one group’s flag, what happens when the council is asked again to fly someone else’s flag? Could we be sued for saying ‘no’…?”
“I was a little bit saddened and hurt by her comments. I think, being an elected official, I think we have a huge responsibility and we have a platform to promote inclusiveness and progress,” said Hollister Vice-Mayor Rolan Resendiz who expressed his concern in a post under Marques’ Facebook explanation.
Resendiz is the city’s first openly gay elected official. He attended Tuesday’s ceremony to raise the Pride flag in Gilroy for the first time, and stood next to councilmember Marques, he said.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to talk about it, but I do know there were some people that were there that were very upset by her remarks,” Resendiz said.
Blankley said she also attended, but was not asked to speak by organizers of the city-hosted event.
“It was disappointing to see the mayor of Hollister was invited to speak and I wasn’t,” she said.
Blankley said she wishes they had more time to discuss the flag proposal instead of holding talks a few weeks before Pride month, especially as the city grapples with the pandemic and financial struggles.
“My focus has been on getting us back on our feet, getting our employees back,” said Blankley. “So this was not on my radar at all.”
KPIX 5 reporter Maria Medina said to Blankley that some in the LGBTQ+ community and allies would argue it is a priority as they face being assaulted, attacked and even murdered.
“But by that, it’s a high priority for a lot of people,” Blankley responded. “Personally, I don’t want to have to see it, acknowledge I know it’s there, but don’t show it to me, because it is too painful for me to see.”
When asked how she felt with the Pride flag now up at city hall Blankley responded, “Fine, it’s up there.”
Councilmember Marques released a statement to KPIX 5 Wednesday in which she wrote, “We had no flag flying policy at the time we made the original vote to fly the gay pride flag. I felt the city was opening itself up to anyone who wanted to fly a flag. Now that we have a policy in place there should be no problem.”