Constituent policy

Sequim Approves New Flag Display Policy

SEQUIM – A new chapter of the Sequim Municipal Code formalizes the flags that will be displayed inside and outside the Sequim Civic Center.

The Sequim City Council voted 6 to 1 for the ordinance at its July 25 meeting with no discussion other than passing the new code, 1.20 City Flag Policy. It states that the city will permanently fly/display the United States Flag, the Washington State Flag, and the City of Sequim Flag outside of the Civic Center.

The POW/MIA flag will also be displayed six times a year outdoors. City code allows any other flag mandated by Federal or Washington State law to be displayed as well.

Flags will be flown at half-mast at the request of the president, governor, and/or at the request of the city council or city manager in the event of the death of a current city employee or official, the code says.

Discussions for a flag policy began in June after a request was made to fly the Pride Flag in Civic Center Square to celebrate Pride Month as part of a proclamation proposed by Rebecca Horst of Sequim.

Mayor Tom Ferrell read an amended proclamation and a discussion of displaying the flags was brought back to the July 11 council meeting when council members agreed to ask Sequim’s attorney to draft a policy so that only current “official” flags can fly over the civic center. square. Pride flags are not mentioned in the new policy.

Lowe said in an interview that she voted against the policy “to help be the voice of our many citizens who support the city flying the Pride Flag during June Pride Month.”

“I felt a unanimous vote did not properly represent those who wanted the city to show support for members of our LGBTQI2S community,” she said.

Lowe added that the “2S” stands for “two spirits, an indigenous expression for LGBTQ.”

At the July 11 meeting, Ferrell said he wanted to stick with federal, state, municipal, and POW/MIA flags because he “didn’t know how to proceed without getting into flag wars.”

He and city staff wrote in a report that “the essential element of the policy is that it must reflect what is considered ‘city’ discourse, meaning the city supports the message behind the flag”.

Lowe said in an interview that there is confusion between civil and human rights efforts and an organization representing an ideology, and that Washington law (BRF 49.60.030) indicates protected classes.

“These classifications are distinctly different from an organization formed around an ideology,” she said.

“Ideology is formed over time and can be changed. Civil and human rights protect what cannot be changed.

“By supporting Pride Month and flying the Pride Flag, we are not placing members of the LGBTQI2S community above others, we are elevating them, as they experience discrimination and bullying. pride flag shows that we accept and support who they are.

The new code says, “Raising flags is an expression of government sentiment, constitutes government speech and does not open any city facility or property as a forum for public or limited public participation.

City council members and staff considered drafting a policy that included options for a town to fly a pride flag, as in Bellingham, with some council members stating that they preferred Bellingham’s code.

Council member William Armacost said on July 11 that there is a challenge in drawing the line for which flags to fly because there are many deserving groups, countries and efforts, and there are many LGBTQ flags. to choose from.

With a new policy, he asked who would program the flags, buy them and take care of them.

On July 11, council member Rachel Anderson said she had heard arguments for the Pride flag to represent “our welcoming community to people of this group, but in my opinion community members should be welcoming”.

“I don’t think a flag changes that,” she said. “Community members are the ones who should make others feel welcome, no matter what group they belong to. I think any group can benefit more from talking to each other more.

To learn more about the town of Sequim, visit sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.