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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 24, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 21
City leaders take Pride in historic celebration
Section One
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City leaders take Pride in historic celebration

Rainbow flag to fly at Seattle City Hall during June

by Sam West - Special to the SGN

It has been nearly 40 years since the first Pride celebration in Seattle, but this year will be the first in which city leaders display the rainbow flag at City Hall throughout the entire month of June.

In an official press release, Mayor Mike McGinn said the flag, which will be raised at a public ceremony June 1, represents Seattle's commitment to equality.

'By flying the flag over Seattle City Hall, we honor that commitment to leading by example in the march toward equal rights for all,' McGinn said.

Seattle City Hall has been the site of several major firsts in the Gay community recently. The city is one of the first in the country to offer Transgender-oriented medical benefits to its employees, and officials signed a legal brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals denouncing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

After Washington voters approved marriage equality at the ballot box last November, city officials began performing the state's first same-sex marriages - more than 100 couples tied the knot at City Hall in just one day.

So it makes sense that the city would be keen on making history by flying the flag this year, as Seattle has one of the highest ratios of LGBT people to total population of any city in the United States.

Unlike at the Space Needle, where the flag waved in 2010 and 2011, the city's raising of the flag probably will not be a sporadic event, said Hill Wolfe, chair of programs and outreach for the Seattle LGBT Commission.

'Our feeling is that the city of Seattle will continue to support LGBTQ Pride Month,' he said.

COOPERATIVE EFFORT
The Seattle Office of Civil Rights, the mayor's office, and the LGBT Commission all worked together to bring the June 1 event to fruition. And it turns out that the city had been planning to display the Pride flag for at least several months prior to the Space Needle's decision not to fly it this year.

'This event was conceptualized and planned before we engaged in the process of encouraging the Space Needle to fly the Pride flag,' Wolfe said.

The LGBT Commission described the Pride flag as a symbol 'to celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of the LGBTQ communities in Seattle and throughout the world.' That's why the commission, other local LGBT organizations, and many private citizens have been lobbying the owners of the Space Needle to fly the Pride flag this year.

But since the Space Needle's owners so far have shown a reluctance to fly the flag, the community can hoist its emblem and excitedly kick off Pride Month at City Hall instead.

Mayor Mike McGinn and State Sen. Ed Murray will speak at the event, and leaders of local LGBT organizations will help with the official raising of the flag. Seattle entertainer DonnaTella Howe is the scheduled emcee.

The Pride flag-raising ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the City Hall courtyard (600 4th Ave.) on Saturday, June 1, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The flagpole is on the corner of 4th Avenue and James Street.

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