SHARE THIS ARTICLE:

It took just one day for Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer to flip his stance against raising the Pride Flag at City Hall.

“It’s a people issue, not a political issue in my eyes. When you have your heart touched and realize that the things you do as a mayor can have incredible impacts on people, that impact can cause somebody to feel welcomed or excluded. And I don’t want people to feel excluded from the community.” — Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer 

Fighting off tears, Mayor Jerry Dyer reversed course and now supports a ceremony for the LGBT flag on City Hall flagpoles. A ceremony is scheduled for Friday, June 11 at 10 a.m.

On Thursday, Dyer held a news conference introducing the idea of flying the rainbow LGBTQ+ flag at Eaton Plaza alongside the flags of other groups instead of at City Hall. After consulting with the gay community and attending a Pride flag ceremony at Fresno City College, Dyer changed his mind.

“I saw so many in the LGBTQ community, as well as family members who were standing with them, crying almost as if they had been freed. And I felt that same emotion inside of me that generated a lot of tears — a moment in time, I think I will never forget,” Dyer said of this morning’s FCC ceremony.

Dyer also said his “Unity Park” at Eaton Plaza concept is still moving forward, and would be in addition to flag ceremonies at City Hall.

Not a Political Gesture

Dyer said he wants people to judge him by what’s in his heart.

“It’s a people issue, not a political issue in my eyes. When you have your heart touched and realize that the things you do as a mayor can have incredible impacts on people, that impact can cause somebody to feel welcomed or excluded. And I don’t want people to feel excluded from the community,” Dyer said.

When the city council voted to change the policy last week, the Fresno County GOP issued a statement opposing the Pride flag waving in front of City Hall calling it “an attack against Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other faiths.”

Dyer realizes that he may have alienated the group that supported him during the 2020 mayoral election.

“If this is going to be a political decision, I wouldn’t be here today because I think, you know, many of the folks that have supported me may walk away,” Dyer said.

Dyer says he received plenty of backlash online from both sides of the Pride flag issue.

“I anticipate I’m going to get hundreds more because this is a very lightning rod issue and I happen to be the lightning rod on this one on many respects,” Dyer said.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said Friday that his “Unity Park” concept at Eaton Plaza will still move forward. (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)

Veto Still an Option

On May 27, the Fresno City Council approved, 5-2, a new policy giving themselves the power to decide what flags — beyond the U.S., state, city and POW/MIA banners — fly at City Hall. Dyer said he asked the council to develop a policy that had been more or less unofficial.

But, Dyer said he may still veto that resolution.

Portrait of Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith

“I never wanted to be the gay president, but I guess today I am. People’s stories can change history. People’s stories can change hearts. People’s stories can bring a city together.” — Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith

“The concerns I’ve expressed since the beginning remain about groups seeking to raise objectional flags at City Hall. For that reason, I believe the city manager should be given the sole discretion to decide which flags will be raised,” Dyer said. “Giving this authority to one person, the person responsible for running the city’s government will allow for consistency once an agreed-upon policy is developed.”

Doing so would revert back to the default policy, where the city manager decides what flags fly.

Dyer said he expects a new resolution at the June 10 council meeting. However, the agenda — released Friday afternoon contains no such motion. The official proclamation for “LGBTQ+ Pride Month.” City Council President Luis Chavez or a majority of the council could still call a special meeting to discuss additional legislation.

“If not, then I have a decision to make by June 11th in terms of that language and policy,” Dyer said. “It’s not final, and like I said, we’ll see what happens this coming week on on a subsequent resolution.”

Dyer has until 11:59 p.m. on June 11 to exercise a veto.

Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria — who helped spearhead the City Hall flag ceremony — is open to a change.

“I look forward to engaging directly with (Mayor Dyer) and having a conversation about bringing forth a policy that is going to work for this entire city,” Soria said.

A flyer on social media for the Pride flag ceremony at City Hall on June 11. (Facebook/Miguel Arias)

Support from LGBT Community

Dyer, at his news conference Friday afternoon, surrounded himself with members of the LGBT community, as well as local clergy.

Rev. Tim Kutzmark, of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, praised Dyer for changing his mind. He led a round of applause.

At the Fresno City College ceremony, Dyer said he was moved by the story of openly gay campus president Carole Goldsmith. She said she was kicked out of her childhood home by her parents.

“I saw the look in her eyes and I saw the look of freedom,” Dyer said when the Pride flag was raised at FCC.

Goldsmith supported Dyer’s decision at City Hall.

“I never wanted to be the gay president, but I guess today I am,” Goldsmith said. “People’s story can change history. People’s stories can change hearts. People’s story can bring a city together.”

6 Responses

  1. Butch

    I thought the American Flag was supposed to be our flag of inclusion when it comes to the citizens of the United States? I thought the California State Flag was our flag of inclusion when it comes to the citizens of this state? How redundant do we have to be to finally understand that all of us are equals as citizens yet different in our beliefs and preferences in the liberties our country provides?

    Reply
  2. Ron Sherrin

    Wow! Jerry Dyer did the right thing, this is wonderful. Thank you Mr. Mayor, you are representing all the people, and like you said it is a “people” issue. Fresno’s dark side just got a little brighter, and the haters in this community just got the punch in the eye they deserve. Trump’s America is a mean, ugly place, and we must fight against the voices who think beliefs & preferences should overrule the equal treatment of everyone.

    Reply
  3. Penny Lacy

    I am pleased at how much of the hand of peace and reconciliation our Mayor has extended to all. It seems Mayor Jerry really is truly a “big tent” person and I am glad for it.

    Reply
  4. James D. Mendez

    Flying the Rainbow Flag in front of City Hall is an inclusive gesture that tells people Fresno welcomes all people. The American flag should be, but has not always been, a symbol of welcome to all. As such, I was not surprised when Mayor Dyer said on June 3, 2021, “I have spent considerable time reflecting on this resolution’s potential to divide this community, as it already has with our city council and in the mayor’s office. After much consultation with community members and staff, I feel compelled to offer what I believe to be a reasonable solution as I consider my options.” The “community members” he usually consults with are generally white, wealthy, straight, Republican, conservative evangelicals. Those are the Fresno residents and friends he feels most comfortable with.

    I was surprised and also inspired by Mayor Dyer’s change of heart and mind after he heard from members of the LGBTQ community on how flying the Rainbow Flag would be an indication of acceptance by the City of Fresno. As a Christian, I see Mayor Dyer’s change as the work of the Holy Spirit in calling us to love our neighbor as ourself and to welcome the stranger in our community.

    Thank you Mayor Dyer.

    Reply
  5. JS

    I would say this is unexpected, but after the decisions I’ve seen Dyer make and NOT make so far, it fits. God’s Word says to love everyone; that doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, and make no mistake, this is agreement. It’s a shame that he and several members of the city council have set up fresno for even MORE lawsuits by anyone who gets turned down for flying THEIR statement. I’m not sure what the Rainbow Flag Warriors are after with forcing the city into this, but I think I’ve heard the word acceptance bandied about. You don’t get what you don’t give. How accepting and tolerant are they to Christians in the Tower District? Another word comes to mind….hypocrites, oh, and vicious. What flags are next? ISIS flag? Hezbollah flag? KKK flag? Gadsden Flag? Christian Flag? CCP flag? What will the Marxists on the city council allow and disallow? It’s based on their personal opinions and desires. Dyer has opened Pandora’s box with this small minded, short sighted decision. Lawsuits will be flying like a rainbow flag in a hurricane. But what do they care, it’s not their money; although it certainly should be, because they KNOW they are putting the city at financial risk, but you and I will be left holding their bag.

    Reply
  6. Renee

    This should be a decision the “citizens of fresno” not by one person. I see a whole lot of problems and other situations that will come out of this

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

We've got issues, and we're willing to share
(but only if you want them in your inbox).