No Pride Day proclamation this June in Boothbay

Fri, 03/01/2024 - 9:30am

There will be no Pride flag flying over the Boothbay municipal building this June, or anything other than the American, Maine, or Lincoln County banner in the foreseeable future.

On Feb. 28, selectmen discussed East Boothbay resident Bryon Cortez’s request to celebrate Pride Month this June by flying the rainbow-colored Pride flag, issuing a proclamation acknowledging “the inherent dignity and equality of all individuals regardless of gender, identity or expression” and painting the crosswalks in a rainbow pattern. 

Selectmen tabled the request Feb. 14 seeking public feedback. The board received a variety of phone calls, texts, emails and personal interactions regarding Cortez’s request. But one resident’s Feb. 28 comment epitomized the vast majority. Resident Ed Shaw spoke during the public forum and had a request of his own. “I understand you are considering flying the ‘Technicolor’ flag? If you do, I have a flag I’d like to fly. The Jewish flag in memory of all those who were butchered over there.”

Prior to the motion dying, selectmen discussed their experience receiving public feedback. Selectman Steve Lewis didn’t attend the previous meeting, but watched a recording, read the Boothbay Register’s article and spoke to residents. He reported public feedback against the proposal was overwhelming. “Call me old-fashioned or call me what you want, our flag pole is a sacred place,” he said. “The only flags should be the American, state and county. Nothing else should go up there. If you’re talking unity, then the American flag is the only symbol.”

Selectman Dale Harmon received similar feedback. He received about 30 emails with 25 respondents opposing the proposal. He also compared public reaction to controversy demonstrated during the roundabout debate. “I asked constituents to chime in, and that’s exactly what I got,” he said. “More people reached out about this than the roundabout. If they saw me in public, they’d let me know their feelings about the roundabout. For this, they searched me out. I got mails, calls and texts.”

Harmon recommended the board create a town policy covering similar future requests. If a policy is created, it would require a town vote. The policy would become part of the town's Administrative Code which requires voter approval. 

In other action, Shaw asked selectmen about a past agreement with Washburn & Doughty. Years ago, the town allegedly gave Washburn & Doughty a piece of land in exchange for a promise to erect a fence and maintain it. 

“I can’t see a fence or any maintenance. So I think the town should get their land back,” he said.

Shaw also inquired about a past deal with Ocean Point Inn to provide two public parking spots by the dock. Selectmen responded the pier is owned by the inn, but they promised to check into both inquiries. 

Selectmen meet next at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 13 in the conference room.