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Medina officials propose new legislation for flying flags on city property

American flag in Medina's City Square.
Posted at 10:49 PM, Dec 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-04 11:23:55-05

MEDINA, Ohio — In Medina’s City Square, you’ll see flags with the word joy spread across them to celebrate the holiday season and even some American flags.

But what about representation from other organizations like the LGBTQ+ community?

“There’s a lot of discussion about what flags can the city fly, is it government speech, is it private speech, you know there’s different types of speech, but they’re all protected by the first amendment,” said Medina City Council President John Coyne.

Back in June, Coyne says Medina had 29 pride flags to honor the month.

“One of our goals always was to put pride flags on the square with the amount of support that we’ve received from all kinds of people in the community,” said OutSupport Founder and President Sandy Varndell.

Then, Coyne says the city took them down after receiving guidance from their law director in response to a May Supreme Court ruling in Shurtleff v. Boston.

The court ruled that Boston violated the free speech rights of a conservative activist when it refused his request to fly a Christian flag on a flagpole outside city hall.

Now, Medina is working through their own proposed legislation to understand what type of speech is governed by the first amendment.

“Currently there’s really no guidelines of what flags fly, what don’t fly. We have the American flags. We have the holiday flags flying in our square, you know this is just for clarification of what does this mean,” said Coyne.

OutSupport Vice President and Trustee Amy Demlow says their LGBTQ+ organization supports Medina’s decision if passed.

“I certainly understand the city’s position in light of the Supreme Court, and I really think that the proposed legislation to adopt a policy with respective flags is a really smart move,” said Demlow.

Meanwhile, others say they don’t feel the change is needed.

“I get it, but I think it should just be kept more you know just traditional what it has been,” said Ben Nagy, a Medina resident.

The LGBTQ+ group recognizes this suggested guidance impacts other organizations and people like 11-year-old Bella Gilpen, who want to feel their community accepts them.

“I feel like everybody should be supported and feel comfortable, like uniting themselves and stuff,” said Gilpen.

“That’s why we’re working through the legislation because in Medina, we do want to be open to everybody. We want to make sure that everyone is welcomed,” said Coyne.

Coyne says the city will have further discussion on this legislation in January.

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