SURFSIDE – Tuesday night, the Surfside commission aimed to adopt a policy to display flags on government grounds.
Traditionally, town flag poles only displayed flags of the United States, State of Florida and the town.
Well, one commissioner was absent. It left the four present at an impasse, unable to set a different course.
“It’s been here for decades this way. Let’s leave it for government speech to avoid offending some of our residents,” said Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger.
Danzinger was unyielding in his stance.
“There are other ways to represent and display for other organizations or movements,” he said.
Multiple flag policy options ended at a stalemate, including a potential policy calling for at least 300 signatures from town residents asking to fly a flag on Turtle Walk, pending commission approval after enough signatures are collected.
“We’re going to keep doing this over and over again. That’s what the previous commission did and did nothing,” said Vice Mayor Jeff Rose.
At the heart of the flag policy controversy is the pride flag. Rose supports the flag on town grounds. Residents had differing views.
“You can just decide we want to fly this flag; we want to send a signal of tolerance, understanding, and inclusion,” said a resident for the pride flag.
“The values of the LGTBQ community are only to celebrate sexually,” said a resident against the pride flag.
“They’re explaining their religious views on homosexuality and trying to bring it into this forum. I think it’s disgusting,” said another resident, upset with hateful comments toward the pride flag or LGBTQ community.
In 2021, the pride flag flew on town grounds for the first time at the community center during Pride Month.
Mayor Danzinger opted not to do so this year.
“I think this city should stay away from this type of display since every item is controversial,” he said.
The decision prompted a protest to raise the flag last month. Again, on Tuesday, the mayor stood firm. He showed slides of other requests to fly other flags, including the satanic flag and other political or nations’ flags, as a reason not to choose any flags outside the traditional ones flown.
The resolution to recognize June as Pride Month in Surfside did pass unanimously, 4-0.
Two members of the commission hope to address the pride flag again at a later date.