Reading, Pennsylvania has a late in summer pride festival scheduled to take place this weekend. In celebration of the event, the Reading City Hall was scheduled to fly a rainbow flag from Monday through Sunday. But now, the mayor of the city has backtracked and said that he will not allow the flag to fly “because it could raise questions,” the Reading Eagle reported.
Minutes before the flag was to be raised, mayor Wally Scott called off the historic event, disappointing and angering the activists and supporters who had gathered to see the flag raised. Acting Managing Director Osmer Deming told the Eagle that “[t]he mayor’s position is that he does not support flags being up that support political movements and he views that as a political movement.”
Other flags have flown over City Hall in Reading, including a Prisoner Of War (POW)/Missing In Action (MIA) flag and the flags from Puerto Rico and France.
Council President Jeffrey S. Waltman Sr. said that the mayor supports Reading Pride, but was not comfortable raising the flag.”
The mayor stated he supports the group, the cause but had concerns about raising the flag,” Waltman said.
In response to Scott’s disappointing stand on the flag, the group that had gathered to celebrate the raising of the flag instead carried it in a march around City Hall while looking for the mayor.
Michelle Dech, executive director of the LGBT Center of Greater Reading, expressed her disappointment with the mayor’s decision, saying, “This is a huge disappointment today, not just for those of us here, but all of us in the community. Raising this flag to make history, and it’s really disappointing and sad.”
Ben Renkus, vice president of the center and president of Reading Pride Celebration, said the community isn’t don’t fighting for LGBTQ rights.
“It goes to show us we still have a lot of work to do,” Renkus said. “Even in a city that has ordinances to protect our rights, we have to fight for those.