Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo proposed a new flag policy at Town Hall today that would authorize just the U.S. flag, state flag and town flag to be flown. Flags of foreign national governments which maintain diplomatic relations with the U.S. would require a resolution by the Board of Selectmen. Other flags (e.g, pro-life, transgender pride) would require either a proclamation by the First Selectman or a resolution of the Board of Selectmen.
Camillo indicated that the need for the policy arose after a case in Boston over a "Christian Flag" went to the Supreme Court in May 2022. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the City of Boston violated the First Amendment by refusing to allow a religious organization, Camp Constitution, to raise a "Christian Flag" on a city-owned flagpole in front of City Hall.
Three options were considered for Greenwich's flag policy, ranging from a restrictive model that included flying only three flags—national, state and town—to a hybrid model that would fly the three flags plus others approved by the Board of Selectmen or approved through a proclamation. A third potential option would have been a "free for all" model which would have let any flag fly.
Camillo prefers the middle, hybrid option, which protects the town and also allows for the town to maintain some of the well-liked traditions already established in Greenwich.
Select-person Janet Stone-McGuigan was concerned about the message this might send about Juneteenth and pride. She first misspoke, claiming both pride and Juneteenth were "federal and state" holidays, and then corrected herself by suggesting pride is a federal and state "celebration". She wanted to add language to the flag policy to reflect the "right" to fly the same flags being flown at the Capitol in Hartford, which most recently include the transgender pride flag.
State Representative Steve Meskers requested that all flags previously flown be grandfathered under the new policy. He also brought up the "groomer sign" incident from June, and the need for security cameras to be aimed at the flag poles.
Another speaker, Lucy Von Brachel, said, "I don't want to see the flags of reprehensible organizations showing up on our flagpole, nobody does." Then she cautioned that, "the former president did not issue pride proclamations as the previous presidents had done. He skipped it. This could happen here."
Of course this naturally leads to the question of who gets to decide what is considered reprehensible, an obviously charged question in a political environment where parents concerned about what their children are learning in school are considered domestic terrorists.
Allison Kahn, a leader in Greenwich Pride, alleged that the reason they are even having a conversation about flags is because of "a small but vocal minority of extremists in this town and elsewhere in towns around the country who have raised their voices to express discontent about flags that have been raised."
Kahn spoke in support of "those most marginalized" as she mentioned "the pride flag for LGBTQ residents... Juneteenth [flag] for black and African-American people" and the Ukraine flag for "our comrades" fighting over there. Comrades?
She said a flag is "much more than just a piece of fabric" and is a concrete marker that demonstrates "we don't bow to bullies. That we're principled. We have integrity. We support all the people in our community." She said that hanging a pride flag at town hall would offer a symbol to a young LGBTQ person "who's getting bullied at school or maybe rejected at home" to know that somebody "thinks their life is worth living."
Perhaps Kahn could have delivered those words as part of a proclamation for a pro-life flag raising—that someone thinks their life is worth living—except that every time a pro-life flag raising was requested by members of the Greenwich community, the request was denied by Town Hall.
Kahn argued that flags should not be a partisan issue.
But the truth is that there's nothing more partisan than the choice to fly a flag that represents highly controversial things like administering chemical castration drugs to children, and surgically removing healthy sex organs from children who are not old enough to comprehend the permanence of such surgeries.