A politician is speaking out after a Pride flag was removed from being displayed on a balcony at the historic Arizona Capitol Museum building.
Arizona Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, decided to display the flag the morning of June 28 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and in celebration of Pride Month. However, it was soon taken down by the Arizona Legislative Council.
The flag was reportedly removed by the council, which oversees that Capitol complex, because it was deemed a “non-conforming display,” Hobbs tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
According to ABC15, the council saw it as a breach of rules because “events on Capitol grounds need to first be approved,” and events, by their definition include any “activity that involves the communication of expression of views or ideas, engaged in by one or more persons.”
However, Hobbs didn’t think her choice to display the flag was breaking any rules.
“My acting in putting up the flag was under the belief that the balcony was under the Capitol Museum,” Hobbs says. “This seems like a reasonable conclusion. The museum comes under my office, and I had permission from the museum director.”
According to C. Murphy Herbert, director of communications for the Arizona Secretary of State, Hobbs is a “longtime ally of the LGBTQ community,” and the Capitol Museum is a facility under her direction.
To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the #Stonewall Uprising and #Pride Month we are showcasing the Pride Flag and the Transgender Pride Flag at the @azcapitolmuseum today. To our knowledge, this is the first time this has happened at the Arizona Capitol. 🌈🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/EVbBmPStgr— Secretary Katie Hobbs (@SecretaryHobbs) June 28, 2019
However, Hobbs says that just about 10 minutes after the flag was draped, her office got calls from Speaker Russell Bowers’s office, “saying a Republican member had seen the flag and was demanding answers about what it was for and how long it would be there.”
However, in a statement provided to ABC15, the Speaker’s office said that Bowers did not request the removal of the flag, but still respects the decision to take it down.
“While the flag was not removed at Speaker Bowers' direction or request, he respects Legislative Council's obligation to enforce Capitol rules governing displays equally and uniformly. It is concerning that our state’s chief elections officer is disseminating partisan misinformation. Hopefully, this doesn't reflect how she intends to carry out her duties,” the statement reads.
Hobbs tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Michael Braun, executive director of the legislative council said he “took it down on his own accord.”
However, Hobbs says she thinks their argument that she “broke a rule” was just a way to “hide behind a reason to take down the display.”
“I think he’s nitpicking the rules," Hobbs told ABC15, referring to Braun. "I don’t think this is about the rules. I think this is about somebody being offended and telling him to figure out a way to take it down.”
In a tweet posted after the flag was taken down on June 28, Hobbs wrote: “We still have work to do.”
UPDATE: Legislative Council, at the direction of the Senate President and House Speaker, removed the #Pride Flags from the @azcapitolmuseum. When I displayed the flags my goal was to highlight that Arizona is a state where all are welcome and respected. We still have work to do. pic.twitter.com/H07wLI8PKz— Secretary Katie Hobbs (@SecretaryHobbs) June 28, 2019
People immediately spoke out. One commented on the tweet about how there are other banners in the same place, which haven’t been contested.
“I've seen banners hung in this space, advertising museum exhibits. Maybe it's time for an exhibit on Gay Pride in Arizona,” the person wrote.
Another added that this is clear indication of how how much work is still needed on Arizona leadership.
“But the flags still flew! And now we have a great story on the record highlighting yet again how absurd our AZ legislative leadership is,” one person commented.
However, the Hobbs hasn’t lost hope. She tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she plans on having a conversation with Braun about the situation — stating that she found it offensive that they took the flag down without communicating with her and implied that she broke the rules.
The Legislative Council and Speaker’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.
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