After a LGBTQ+ demonstration on the steps of Stockton City Hall, a series of passionate pleas and a close-as-it-can-be council revote, the pride flag is now flying over the seat of the city’s government.
But the main difference from the first attempt wasn’t about anyone changing their mind. This time Councilmember Susan Lenz was in attendance, albeit via Zoom, and there would not be a tie this time.
Lenz missed the meeting on June 13, when the initial vote over whether to fly the pride flag at City Hall for Pride Month deadlocked at 3-3. Because the motion was not actually defeated, the item was put back on the agenda for the Council’s next meeting. Lenz voted in favor of the measure along, breaking the tie by joining Vice Mayor Kimberly Warmsley and councilmembers Brando Villapudua and Dan Wright.
Once again, Mayor Kevin Lincoln and members Michael Blower and Michele Padilla voted against.
“We are a city of inclusion and diversity. We pride ourselves on that,” Lenz said before casting her vote. “So I think for one week to raise the pride flag is so appropriate to show that we are a city of inclusion.”
The pride flag flew in Stockton the previous four years during Pride Month, and other San Joaquin County cities such as Tracy and Manteca opted to raise the LTBTQ+ symbol of their respective city halls earlier this month. But the deadlocked vote in Stockton stirred strong emotions and condemnation from the LTBTQ+ supporters.
About 50 people met on the steps of Stockton City Hall before the Council’s meeting to support the measure. Among the speakers was James Patnaude, a member of the San Joaquin Pride Center, who also spoke during public comment later that evening.
“It is important for our community to be seen and heard not even just within Pride Month, but through the year,” Patnaude said. “The fact that we even have to fight to have the pride flag raised after a deadlock is a bit ridiculous. It’s disheartening. It’s disappointing. But we’re here mobilizing to not only empower one another, but also to advocate to get this.”
Camille Cruz Zapata, former chief of staff to former San Joaquin County Superintendent Kathy Miller and current board member of the California Women’s List, also asked the Council to fly the flag in support of the people it represents. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted down earlier this month flying the pride flag at the County Administration Building in Stockton.
“I urge each of you to cast a yes vote for my fellow LGBTQ friends and colleagues, the youth coming up behind me, for the gay and the queer and the trans people who left Stockton to bigger cities to feel accepted,” Zapata said.
The vast majority of the speakers at the meeting supported flying the flag, though there were some who voiced opposition. Even Lincoln, Padilla and Blower all said they support the LGBTQ+ community despite their vote against the agenda item.
Padilla said she allegedly received a lot of hate last week for not wanting to vote in favor of the resolution, but stood by her decision.
“I don’t think we are ready to fly any other flag,” Padilla said.
But with just a little over a week of Pride Month left, the pride flag was finally lifted up the flagpole Wednesday outside City Hall at 7:45 a.m.