HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (FOX 2) - After Hamtramck controversially banned the gay Pride flag from flying on city property, we're still seeing the pushback tonight. The latest twist is whether it is even legal.
"It’s a little disappointing and I expected more from the city of Hamtramck and how diverse the city is," said Chris-Teena Constas.
It’s how Constas, a local film director, felt going into Hamtramck City Council’s vote to ban the gay Pride flag on public property in a meeting Tuesday night. Now the question is, what happens next?
"It makes me honestly want to sell my property. I’m on a business district street and I run a business here in Hamtramck," Constas said. "And anybody that wants to bring a flag over to my place, I’d be happy to support it."
Hamtramck officials say it’s all about the city being neutral and embracing diversity without showing special treatment to any group.
The resolution now blocks any religious, ethnic, racial, political, or sexual orientation group flags on City property allowing only a few including the American Flag and the one for the State of Michigan.
"They’re saying there’s no flags at all so it’s going to be a lot tougher to challenge this type of law," said Jon Marko.
Marko, a Civil Rights attorney, says a challenge is not impossible - particularly given the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act which recently amended with additional LGBTQ protections.
"One way would be if it’s enforced in a discriminatory manner so for example if they have this law on the books, they don’t let any gay flags on public property but they start allowing other types of flags and selectively enforce the statute, that would be illegal," Marko said.
But in Royal Oak, the Pride flag is proudly flown at City Hall and officials say they’re not backing down in their celebration of inclusion, especially during Pride Month.
"Existing isn’t political. We’re not taking a political stance we’re taking a stance that we’re allowed to exist and we’re allowed to be part of our communities," said Becca Russell, Royal Oak resident.
That message is loud and clear at Royal Oak’s Farmers Market Pride Night.
"We are embracing our residents. We are embracing those who live in our community," said one man. "And so I think Hamtramck put up a clear symbol last night that they don’t believe in inclusivity. I’m sorry. I feel bad for those residents. They always have a home here in Oakland County. They always have a home here in Royal Oak."