An LGBT rainbow flag was flown in front of city hall in Reading, Pennsylvania, on Monday after the town’s Democrat mayor received national criticism last week when he put plans to fly the flag on hold.
WFMZ-TV reports that the pride flag was erected around 12 p.m. Monday in the eastern Pennsylvania city after Mayor Wally Scott reversed his initial decision to halt the planned flag-raising over concerns the flag represented a political movement.
The request to fly the flag next to the United States and Pennsylvania flags in front of city hall was made by Reading Pride Celebration and the LGBT Center of Greater Reading.
In a video recording published Saturday, Scott pushed back against the national media for claiming that he refused to allow the LGBT flag to fly. He explained that he only put the flag-raising on “hold” after it appeared the flag ceremony got the go-ahead without his approval.
But after Scott’s decision last week, the LGBT Center of Greater Reading accused the mayor of “blatant, unacceptable discrimination.”
In his video recording, Scott assured that he has turned down several requests to fly flags representing political movements during his time in office, including requests to fly the confederate flag and even a 4-20 marijuana flag.
“I am just thinking that it was one of the things that just went through the system. But not the proper way,” Scott explained in the video. “We had to take a little bit more time and take a look at what is coming through…”
But after meeting with one female resident who said she felt as if she were a man last week, Scott said that he realized that the flag wasn’t just about a movement but about people.
“I sat down with her and she told me about the first time that she realized that she was gay. I think it was anywhere from 8 to 13 years of age and how she had to talk to her mother about it,” Scott said.
“She said she still remembers the day like it was yesterday, where her mother was sitting on the couch and she was looking up and I like when she said: ‘Mommy, there is something I have to tell you.’ She said, ‘I know that I am in a girl’s body but I know I am a man. What’s wrong? Did God make a mistake?’ She said her mother grabbed her and held on to her and hugged her and said that ‘God doesn’t make mistakes.’”
Scott said that the woman’s testimony choked him and made him tear up.
“I, like most people, probably don’t understand what people go through in their lifetimes, especially if they feel they are in the wrong body,” he said. “I just want to thank her mother who is not with her anymore today. I am certainly hoping she is in Heaven for what great advice she gave her daughter.”
Scott then contacted the LGBT groups and told them they could fly the rainbow flag at city hall so long as they “keep politics out of it.”
“What I am interested in is that the people that the flag represents have suffered,” he said.
“I think we have to do this."
Scott told WFMZ-TV that the people are “asking for equality.”
“The more I thought about it, it’s more of a civil rights issue,” Scott contended.
The LGBT Center for Greater Reading praised the mayor’s decision.
“This isn’t about a flag; it’s about people. It’s about standing proudly and safely in authenticity and celebrating that,” a Facebook post from the organization reads. “We changed the course of history last week in Reading, Pa. and set the precedence for future administrations.”
The flag-raising in Reading comes as the Trump administration said it would not allow LGBT pride flags to fly at U.S. embassies during Pride month (June).
Vice President Mike Pence defended the decision to only fly the American flag at U.S. embassies.
“I’m aware that the State Department indicated that on the flagpole of our American embassies that one flag should fly and that’s the American flag and I support that,” he told NBC News.
Under the Obama administration, the White House was decorated in LGBT-themed rainbow lighting in June 2015 to commemorate the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that year legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.
Leading evangelist and conservative evangelical Franklin Graham criticized the Obama administration’s decision as being “a real slap in the face to the millions of Americans who do not support same-sex marriage.”