Florida City to Fly Pride Flag Over City Hall But Christian Flag May Be a Problem

Florida City to Fly Pride Flag Over City Hall But Christian Flag May Be a Problem

Chris Nelson
Chris Nelson
May 6, 2023

The Sarasota City Commission will fly the "Progress Pride Flag" over City Hall next week. Records show Shannon Fortner, president of the Fabulous Arts Foundation, who lists her pronouns as "They/Them", requested the flag be flown May 11-13 as part of the "Music & Arts Fest Pride | Be Fabulous FKA Harvey Milk Festival".

"We donated a really nice flag last year and would love to have it flying at City Hall again," said Fortner in an email to the commission, obtained by The Floridian. "We would also love to get a proclamation and have someone represent at the opening ceremony. Thanks again for all you do, and I look forward to hearing from you soon."

Commissioner-at-Large Jen Ahearn-Koch replied:

"Hi Shannon,

Apologies for the late response!

I have copied the City Manager on this email to make the necessary arrangements. I am sure he will be in touch!

Have a great event and I’ll add it to my calendar to attend!!!

Thanks, Jen"

Ahearn-Koch sought approval from City Manger Marlon Brown to add the item to the agenda "for approval of non- government flags to fly at City Hall". The item was voted on unanimously at the May 3 meeting by Commissioners Ahearn-Koch, Debbie Trice, Erik Arroyo, Vice Mayor Liz Alpert and Mayor Kyle Battie.

"The City Commission unanimously approved the temporary flying of the Progress flag May 8-14 leading up to and during the Music & Arts Fest Pride|Be Fabulous Festival (previously known as the Harvey Milk Festival), as it is consistent with the City’s values of non-discrimination, diversity and inclusion," Communications General Manager Jan Thorberg wrote to the Floridian.

When asked if a Christian flag would be allowed to fly over City Hall in the spirit of diversity and inclusion, Thornberg pointed to the non-governmental flag flying policy of the City Commission prohibiting  "promoting or opposing a particular religion or religious organization or having a religious theme".

When asked whether this prohibition would apply to the Progress Pride Flag, Thornberg replied, "Legal counsel was present during the discussion and had no objections."

Video of the City Commission meeting can be viewed here.  The agenda item is under New Business XII.1.

The backup material can be found here.

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Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson is a videographer and investigative reporter based in Fort Lauderdale. Chris covers breaking news, and local and state politics, and focuses on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. His work has been cited on Fox News and Epoch Times.

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