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Delaware pauses city's flag program ahead of Pride Month

Delaware Ohio Pride
Delaware Ohio Pride

A decision by the city of Delaware, Ohio, means the city's Pride Month celebrations this year will not feature rainbow flags lining city streets.

Earlier this month, Delaware City Manager Thomas Homan sent a letter indicating Delaware was pausing its flag program to review and evaluate it in light of a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On May 2, the high court unanimously ruled in Shurtleff v. The City of Boston that Boston infringed upon free speech protections by denying a group's request to fly a Christian flag on city property.

"While unfortunate for our local nonprofit organizations who use the banner and flag program to support cultural and community events, it is reasonable and prudent to take this step to protect the interests of our city," Homan's letter read.

Lee Webb is co-chair for Delaware Ohio Pride, which formed in 2019 and began flying rainbow flags on downtown streets last year.

Webb said while he understands Delaware officials wanting to review their policy in light of the Supreme Court ruling, the timing of the decision is unfortunate.

"I think the timing of that Supreme Court ruling was very convenient to make it harder for us to fly flags for those that don't want them to fly," Webb said.

Webb said the city's decision is "discouraging" because, as he puts it, "it's not just another flag."

"It's that teenager that can't fly a flag at home because they're not accepted. They can walk down or drive down the street and see the flag flying and knowing that their community still supports them, even if they don't get that support at home," said Webb.

The Delaware Ohio Pride Festival 2022 will be held on Saturday, June 4. More information can be found here.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.