On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council agreed in a split 3-2 vote to fly the Pride Progress flag at Antioch City Hall for the remainder of the year.
The move came after the March 22, 2022, where public comments were received regarding homophobic and transphobic attitudes experienced in the community of Antioch. As an expression of opposition to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, two agenda items were subsequently prepared for City Council action.
The city council approved the proclamation in a 5-0 vote followed by a vote to display the Pride Progress Flag in a 3-2 vote in which Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and Councilmember Lori Ogorchock were opposed.
Barbanica explained his “no” vote after he spoke to several people over the past few weeks to help him come to a decision noting he had no issue with the flag.
“The only problem I do have is that we’re doing this for an entire year. I was contacted by some veterans that said what about us in November for Veterans Day?” explained Barbanica. “Some police officers said what about us? Spoke to a firefighter yesterday, what about us? I wish e would have done this for Pride Month and I would have been making the motion lets support this and lets move forward. My issue with this is the entire year. It’s not the flag, its not what it represents, its not the people. I feel everybody in this community should feel welcome and safe, I just wish we would have done this differently and included everybody.”
Councilmember Ogorchock said she agreed with Barbanica.
“If we fly this flag until the end of the year, there is no other flags that can be put up on the flag pole so for those reasons I am going to vote no on this,” explained Ogorchock.
Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe responded that they have a flag policy.
“Organizations have a right to request flying the flag, that doesn’t change,” said Thorpe. “Our young people out there need to see a strong stance of solidarity. Particularly those who are transgender, looking at the recent surveys of suicide rates among youth related to this topic. Folks are going to say things, but when you are a self-proclaimed community leader calling individuals delusional is just wrong and we need to be firm in making sure that our young people understand we will not tolerate that. I am perfectly comfortable voting for this.”
Here is the RESOLUTION:
IN HONOR OF
WHEREAS, the City of Antioch embraces diversity and stands firmly against any form of
discrimination and hate based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression;
WHEREAS, the City of Antioch values the uniqueness of our residents and stands with the
youth, and their families, who deserve to be who they are, treated with
dignity, and to receive equal treatment and protection;
WHEREAS, discrimination against the transgender community is not based in science and is
intended to sow division and instill animosity toward our fellow Americans; and
WHEREAS, the City condemns any attack on the transgender community and reaffirms our
commitment to being an inclusive environment;
WHEREAS, the Progress Pride flag was designed by Daniel Quasar who adapted the original
Pride flag of the rainbow and represents a concerted move towards a more
tolerant and intersectional LGBTQI+ community; and
WHEREAS, the black and brown lines of the Progress Pride flag represent marginalized
people of color within the queer community, while the pink, blue and white
arrow shape represents the transgender community.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, LAMAR A. THORPE, Mayor of the City of Antioch,
hereby condemn violence against the transgender and nonbinary community in
all forms and commit to advocating for the well-being and safety of
the transgender and nonbinary community.
APRIL 12, 2022
LAMAR A. THORPE, Mayor
During the meeting, Robyn Kuslits, chair of the Rainbow Community Center. stated she was representing the LAMBDA Democratic Club and was responding to comments made by a former Antioch City Councilmember while also calling on the City of Antioch to submit to the human rights campaign for the Municipal Equality Index (MEI):
“I grew up in Antioch and I was so proud when the city council voted a few years ago to raise the PRIDE flag. Recently, a former city councilmember shared disparaging remarks towards a transgender public official on social media and it reminded me there is more work to be done to create a welcoming environment to the LGBTQ+ community. I am excited to bring your awareness to a free tool from the human rights campaign called the Municipal Equality Index (MEI). The MEI examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are of LGBTQ+ people live and work there. Cities are ranted based on non-discrimination laws, municipal as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership on LGBTQ+ equality. Despite the index being in existence for 10-years now, Antioch has yet to submit their score. Transgender people are under attack all across the nation and Antioch is not immune as shown by the recent social media comments. Antioch has an opportunity to put action behind their words with laws and policies proven to be inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community. The first step and my ask of council tonight is commit to submitting Antioch’s score to the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index for this year. Once this score is submitted, I am committed to working with the city of Antioch to raise the score to the highest level of 100 points. Together, I believe we can show the world that the city of Antioch lives its values and continues to be a community that provides an opportunity to live, learn, work, work and play in a safe, stimulating and diverse community”
During the council meeting, Thorpe closed the meeting with the following comments:
“Robyn I am sorry, you are not delusional, you served your country, you are one of my shipmates, I am proud of you and I am proud of who you are. No one deserves to be treated the way our friends in the transgender community have” said Thorpe. “Please know that this city stands with you and everybody in the LGBTQ+ community. I want you to know that the next agenda item that will be coming to the council is we are going to raise that PRIDE Flag for the rest of the year. We will not tolerate that. This is an open city. Everybody is welcome here.”
Thorpe continued stating there is no room for homophobic and/or transphobic rhetoric or behavior in the new Antioch; especially by those who purport to be leaders in our community.