It appears the Pride flag will be flying in Rye this June.
Last June the Rye City Council united on a Pride celebration on the village green but after a contentious debate, it demurred on raising the Pride flag in a city flag pole. At the time, the local pRYEde group organizers and the Rye High GSA said they would be back in a year.
Fast forward to last month and it seemed as if the council and Rye Mayor Josh Cohn were almost surprised when Rye High School GSA member Fiona Degnan called into their meeting and requested the council consider the Pride flag raising again. As if waking from a slumber, the council continued with last year’s caution about if they allow a Pride flag then what crazies will come out of the woodwork demanding all sorts of flags be raised on the city flagpole.
At a second meeting in April, the Mayor recommended and all but Sara Goddard on the council voted in favor of hiring a law firm top provide First Amendment guidance. Goddard and citizens calling into the meeting expressed some astonishment that this legwork, if in fact necessary, was just being discussed and not already completed given Pride month is weeks away.
It is election season, so Saturday evening Mayor Cohn’s campaign manager Meg Cameron released a statement from Cohn saying “Mayor Josh Cohn announced today that he will propose at the May 5th City Council meeting that the City display the Pride flag this June. He anticipates that the Council will confirm the proposal enthusiastically. The City sought and has received legal guidance from a law firm specializing in municipal First Amendment issues to protect Rye from a situation like that faced by Boston. After displaying the Pride and other flags, Boston said no to an extremist group’s request to display the so-called Christian flag. Boston was sued, and has spent three years and untold taxpayers dollars defending its decision.”
Cohn’s challenger on the Mayoral race, Danielle Tagger Epstein, said the Boston case was an incorrect comparison, a red herring. “I am not sure what “displaying” the Pride flag means, since there were alternatives [to actually raising the flag] floated by the Mayor. But, if it means raising the Pride flag on a municipal flagpole, then I welcome it,” said Tagger Epstein.
Make no mistake. If in fact the council votes and affirms the city will raise the Pride flag this June, it is not because of the Mayor’s magnanimity. The result is to be credited to the Rye High School GSA and the local pRYEde group who have proven to be effective advocates and ones you do not want to cross in an election year.
(VIDEO, below: This report from WCBS-TV explains the recent chapter on the battle in Rye over the Pride flag.)