INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — It’s a matter of precedent — not pride.
That’s how Independence City Council members explained their Monday night vote against flying the LGBTQ pride flag at City Hall and other public buildings. That’s a move endorsed by Independence Mayor Eileen Weir, meant as a display of respect during June, which is celebrated as Pride Month.
“They have a flag and I would like to fly it,” Weir told FOX4 on Tuesday. “I feel that we should lead. I think that seeing leadership from your elected officials that make people feel they belong here is important.”
Weir’s proposed resolution was rejected 6-1 by the council on Monday, with the mayor casting the only vote in favor. Council members explained their vote was not rooted in discrimination against LGBTQ people.
“I want it to not be a hollow gesture. I want us to look at diversity and inclusion in our city and how we function and operate,” council member Michael Steinmeyer said.
“I think the role of government is for us to stay as neutral as possible. I think that’s the best message to send to our residents,” Daniel Hobart, another Independence council member, said.
Justice Horn, an Independence native, who now works for LGBTQ rights in Kansas City, said he doesn’t feel as if LGBTQ people are represented well within Independence city leadership.
Horn said he’s disappointed in the council’s decision.
“Seeing something as simple as that with no LGBT elected officials in Independence. There are LGBT residents in Independence. That’s disappointing and disheartening to see that they won’t have visibility and a community that embraces them,” Horn said.
FOX4 heard from several city council members via email on Tuesday, including Hobart, who represents the city’s fourth district. Hobart, as well as others, said endorsing one flag would set precedent for other flags to be included. Hobart also said that could include a Confederate flag — which he opposes as well.
Weir has proposed displaying the flag during Pride Month in the past. In 2018, she and other elected officials displayed the flag at City Hall, leading the council to demand approval before any additional flag is displayed outside City Hall.
Currently, the American flag is displayed, as well as the Missouri state flag, the City of Independence flag, and a patriotic flag paying respect to soldiers missing in action and prisoners of war.