Arlington Heights League of Women Voters appeals again for village to reconsider allowing gay pride flag to fly, but mayor repeats the Village Board’s ‘no’

A local chapter of the League of Women Voters has joined the ongoing opposition to the Arlington Heights flag ordinance that prohibits the flying of a gay pride flag on village property.

The debate over flying the rainbow-colored flag at Village Hall surfaced last year when the board approved an ordinance that only allows the American, state of Illinois and the POW/MIA flags to be flown on village property.

That discussion followed a debate in nearby Buffalo Grove, home of the first suburban gay pride parade. Since then, Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes and the Village Board have been challenged repeatedly on ordinance approval. Trustee Nicolle Grasse proposed a more inclusionary flag ordinance last year but it was rejected by the board.

In response to the flag ordinance, the League of Women Voters chapter serving Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove and other nearby towns organized a march and news conference at Village Hall last summer, protesting the board’s decision.

Miel Johnson, co-president of the League of Women Voters in Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove and surrounding areas, reiterated LWV’s goal at the May 16 Village Board meeting.

“Our league is urging you to make Arlington Heights a more welcoming city of good neighbors by reconsidering the excellent proposal Trustee Grasse put forward last year that would allow flags flown by the state of Illinois to be flown in Arlington Heights,” Johnson said during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“As race-, religion- and gender-based violence continue to dominate the headlines, we must do better for our community,” Johnson said. “We admire the village’s desire to sustain a welcoming community for all and the League of Women Voters looks forward to being a partner in that journey.”

She reiterated LWV’s desire for the board to amend the previously adopted flag ordinance to allow for flags displayed at the state Capitol building to be raised in the village of Arlington Heights. For the last two years, the gay pride flag has been flown at the Capitol building in Springfield during the month of June as a “symbol of the state’s commitment to standing with and celebrating the LGBTQ community.”

Although not typical for the mayor to address citizen comments during the public speaking portion of the meeting, Hayes took exception.

“This was brought up previously and we did discuss this fully, and carefully and thoroughly,” Hayes said. “Last year, a vote was taken by this Village Board and a flag ordinance was passed in its current form and there is insufficient support on this board to reconsider that ordinance, which is now on the books of the village of Arlington Heights.”

In response to Pioneer Press questions following the meeting, Johnson emailed a statement from the League of Women Voters:

“While much of the focus has been on the Pride flag, any discussion of DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] would be incomplete without including the Juneteenth flag, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. The League of Women Voters knows Arlington Heights to be a welcoming community. It is unfortunate the Village Board chose not to reflect the nature of the community they serve.

“The fact that the board deems symbols so fundamentally inclusive as unworthy of further discussion speaks volumes to their superficial, performative nature of their commitment to DEI.”

Also at the May 16 meeting, the board passed a new speed limit ordinance. The engineering division was contacted recently by residents near East Miner Street between North Arlington Heights Road and North Rammer Avenue concerned about speeding vehicles. According to village staff reports, after records were reviewed by staff, it was determined the section of roadway on East Miner Street, North Douglas Avenue between East Kensington Road and East Euclid Avenue, has 25 mph speed limit signs posted, however, there was no ordinance to support those restrictions.

In order to address this, the engineering department proposed an ordinance officially establishing a speed limit of 25 mph on portions of East Miner Street and North Douglas Avenue which the board approved at the meeting.

Elizabeth Owens-Schiele is a freelancer.

via Chicago Tribune

May 29, 2022 at 09:57AM

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