No rainbow flag for Milford; proc approved

MILFORD – There will be no rainbow flag flying on the Milford Oval this month. On Monday, selectmen turned down a request to fly a gay pride flag, but they also voted 3-2 in favor of a town proclamation naming June as Gay Pride month.

The board was reacting to requests from George Hoyt, a member of the town recycling committee.

Selectman and state Sen. Gary Daniels read a long statement in opposition to flying the flag, saying the American flag and flagpole installed on the Milford Oval after World War I signifies “true American unity,” and any flag other than a military one would be a desecration.

The American flag is enough to unify us, he said, and the Constitution protects the rights of diverse groups. Allowing a flag would make it difficult for the town to say no to any other group – Christian, Jewish, white supremacist – that might want to fly a flag, he said.

“There is no way that subsequent requests could be denied … I will forever protect any expression of First Amendment rights, and any group can use the oval as a place of assembly.

Only Selectman Paul Dargie disagreed with the argument about setting prescenents, saying the situation of the LGBT community is different, Pride Month is worldwide and the flag would show Milford as inclusive.

Both Daniels and Selectman Mike Putnam said a gay pride flag would desecrate the flagpole and is unnecessary.

“I’ve never know this community to be anything but welcoming,” said Putnam.

The proclamation narrowly passed after board Chairman Kevin Federico broke a 2-2 tie.

Susan Kater, who ran unsuccessfully for school board this year, also spoke against flying the rainbow flag, saying it would take the place of the American flag, but Hoyt said it would be positioned below the American flag and cost the taxpayers nothing.

“Making and marketing Milford as a welcoming and inclusive town for all is something we all are invested in as being fellow citizens,” he said in his emailed request for the flag and proclamation.

In an email to The Cabinet Tuesday, Hoyt said he disagree with Daniel’s statement “that flying the Rainbow Flag along side with Our Red, White, and Blue desecrates and disrespects our veterans. In fact, I believe it does quite the opposite. Many thousands of communities across the country and across the world proudly fly the Rainbow Flag.

If members of the local LGBT community were disappointed, they had good news from Concord this month.

Gov. Sununu signed two laws, one banning gay conversion therapy and the other banning discrimination on the basis of gender orientation or gender identity.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.