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Decorah Human Rights Commission asks that Pride Flags be put up along Water Street during next month's Pride Fest in town

Posted: Mon, Apr 16, 2018 7:33 PM

The Decorah Human Rights Commission is helping to plan a Pride Fest in town from May 11th through May 13th.

As part of that work, Human Rights Commission Chair Melissa Koch on Monday night requested the Decorah City Council approve a request for putting up 40 Pride Flags along Water Street on that weekend.  Koch said such a display of flags would be "a symbol that Decorah supports diversity."

City Council member Ross Hadley endorsed the idea, saying, "I encourage the flying of the flags."  Fellow Decorah City Council member Steve Luse said the flags "would recognize the diverse community we have here."

City Administrator Chad Bird cautioned the city council members that they would be setting a precedent for other organizations to request flags, asking, "How would you challenge a Confederate flag?"  He told the council, "If you open it for any of these groups, you open it for all of them."  City Attorney John Anderson agreed, saying "the more consistent you are, the better."  However, city council member Johanna Bergan pointed out that the city allows flags to be flown not just for Luther College and Decorah High School, but also for Winneshiek County United Way and for Nordic Fest.

As a result, city council members agreed to refer the request to their Community Betterment Committee for a recommendation on changes to the city's flag policy.  That would allow the city council to vote on any recommendation on May 7th--before the Pride Fest.