- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2016

Town leaders of College Park, Maryland, plan to hoist the gay pride flag above City Hall to mark President Obama’s LGBT Pride Month, but some members of the City Council question the propriety of the move.

The rainbow-adorned flag will fly for one week beginning Monday, after the City Council passed a resolution on May 24 in a 5-0 vote.

Council members Mary Cook, Fazlul Kabir and Christine Nagle submitted a counterproposal calling for a process that would allow other groups to submit requests to fly their flags over City Hall throughout the year. Their proposal was rejected, and the three abstained from the final vote.

Allowing one group to fly its flag over City Hall and not others creates a perceived sense of favoritism, Ms. Cook said.

Ms. Cook said that she and her fellow abstainers had tried to “introduce a process or policy into our motion, because we knew that we would have other people requesting that their flag or banner would be raised in the future, so we were just trying to be preemptive.”

She also said many of her constituents in College Park do not agree with the message the flag sends, making the official endorsement from the City Council problematic.

“I would say many constituents disagree with the motion that passed, but they were afraid to speak out, because of how they would be viewed,” she said.

Boasting about 31,000 residents, College Park is the second largest city in Prince George’s County and home to the University System of Maryland’s flagship school, which has an enrollment of about 37,000 students.

The effort to raise the gay pride flag was spearheaded by Nick Brennan, a private citizen and the husband of City Council member P.J. Brennan.

Nick Brennan told the Diamondback, the university’s student newspaper, that the flag offers “an opportunity for the city to visibly put it out there that it’s a value that this city has.”

P.J. Brennan expressed disappointment in the council members who declined to support the measure.

“The answers that were not ‘yes,’ I was disappointed in,” P.J. Brennan told the Diamondback. “It is important in this particular case; it’s timely, there are things happening nationally and on a local level that requires us to draw people’s attention.”

Ms. Cook said she “can understand why he might be disappointed” in her decision to abstain from the vote.

“I can understand it,” she said. “I can say, personally, that I was not opposed to raising the gay flag, but I wonder whether or not City Hall is the appropriate place to do it.”

Mr. Obama on Tuesday issued a decree marking June 2016 LGBT Pride Month.

“I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people,” Mr. Obama said in his proclamation.

College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn is the city’s first openly gay man to hold the office.

Mr. Wojahn was previously a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the state of Maryland, challenging the constitutionality of the state’s law defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. That case reached the Maryland Supreme Court in 2012, which upheld the state law.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in Maryland in 2013 through the legislative process.

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