Let Pride flag fly in Monument Square, Select Board

June 14, 2024

I was disheartened to read that the Select Board balked at raising a Pride flag on June 22 for Concord’s first Pride celebration.

A Pride flag in Monument Square would demonstrate our town government’s support for all LGBTQIA+ citizens at a time when their civil rights are being questioned nationwide. If we wait until LGBTQIA+ rights are enshrined in a federal holiday before we fly a Pride flag, we will be waiting a very long time. The fight for equality is now.

Select Board Chair Mary Hartman’s comment that the flagpole is “not a bulletin board” shows a misunderstanding of current law. In 2022, the Supreme Court clarified in Shurtleff v. City of Boston that “when the government speaks for itself, the First Amendment does not demand airtime for all views.” The issue here is not, as the Select Board seems to think, that the town government raising a Pride flag opens the floodgates for any community group to demand to fly its own flag. Instead, it is a matter of whether our town government is ready to express its own opinion in support of LGBTQIA+ rights. 

Anyone concerned about the legality of such government speech should read the ACLU’s open letter published last year: “A city choosing to fly a Rainbow Flag does not mean that the city must then fly any and all flags requested.” 

Concord is rightly proud of having led the fight for freedom throughout its long history. Surely we want to stay at that forefront in the 21st century movement for equal rights for all.

I hope Concord’s town leadership has the fortitude to raise the Pride flag to show our friends and neighbors in the LGBTQIA+ community that they are not alone in their fight for equality.

Jennifer Kelly

Main Street