County Board Institutes New Flag Policy

The County of Door now has a policy for the types of flags it will allow to be flown on its flag poles, and that no longer includes the Pride flag that the county has flown in June for Pride Month over the past couple of years. 

The policy that passed with a 14-7 vote, Sept. 26, will only allow the display of the American flag, the State of Wisconsin flag, the County of Door flag, POW-MIA flags and military flags.

The type of flag that will be flown on any of the 15 flagpoles owned by the County of Door depends upon the number of flag poles that exist at a location: one pole, the American flag; two poles, the American flag and the State of Wisconsin flag; three poles, and the County of Door flag can be added. Additionally, the POW-MIA flag can be flown below the America flag, and flags of the United States branches of military services may be independently flown on flag poles at a veteran, military service, or similar memorial.

The approval of the policy followed a public comment period where eight people spoke in favor of the policy, seven people against. 

Cathy Grier, founder and chair of Open Door Pride, said they didn’t dispute the reasons for wanting a policy or the desire to fly the American flag. 

“But this policy is excluding the Pride flag that has flown on the county flagpole,” she said.

Sturgeon Bay resident Nicole Kennedy said the Pride Flag doesn’t represent everyone.

“If you make allowances for one you have to make allowances for everyone,” she said.

While those who didn’t support the policy because it excluded the Pride flag – “a welcoming symbol of love, acceptance and inclusion,” said Sturgeon Bay resident Sandy Brown, founder of the Door County PFLAG chapter – those who supported the policy said the American flag was also that symbol.

“Liberty and justice for all,” said District 6 Supervisor Ken Fisher, who represents wards in the town and city of Sturgeon Bay. “You can’t say it any better than that. That’s for everybody. Not special groups that get special treatment. Everybody.”

Fisher had said during the Highway and Facilities Committee meeting, out of which the policy advanced, that he had received complaints about the Pride Flag being flown on county poles. District 9 Supervisor Dan Austad, who represents wards in the City of Sturgeon Bay and also sits on the Highway and Facilities Committee, also said he had received complaints, and when he inquired, learned the county didn’t have a policy for flag displays. That’s why, he said, he introduced the policy during the committee meeting. 

“I started this off mainly because we have no policy,” he said during the Sept. 26 board meeting. “We have got to remember this is about the American flag, nothing else. This is flagpoles on county property, nothing else.”

District 18 Supervisor Vinni Chomeau, who represents wards in the Town of Gibraltar and Village of Ephraim, tried to amend the policy twice, first to allow the Pride flag to be flown in June during Pride Month, second to consider flying the Pride flag if a federal or state order recommended flying it in June. 

“Why now do we need a policy that specifically doesn’t allow the Pride flag,” she said. “It seems very prescribed to specifically not allow the Pride Flag on the pole.” 

Both of her amendments failed with a 14-7 vote.

The supervisors who voted against the policy were Chomeau, Bob Bultman, Alexis Heim Peter, Claire Morkin, Nissa Norton, Morgan Rusnak and Dave Enigl. Enigl said during the meeting that it bothered him that they didn’t have a policy, but he couldn’t vote for the one being considered because, “I don’t like the way it is worded at all,” with references to “stationary poles,” and language that he said the public could misinterpret, with its use of “Door County” rather than “County of Door.”

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