Pride Flag Flies Over California Capitol for the First Time—Except for a Few Hours Back in 1990

The pride flag now flies under the U.S. and California flags. (Courtesy of the Governor's Office)

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the rainbow flag would be flown over the California State Capitol through July 1 in recognition of LGBTQ Pride Month.

Newsom said it was the first time in state history the flag had flown over the building.

But that's not entirely true.

According to an archive copy of the Bay Area Reporter, the flag was actually approved to fly over the California dome on Oct. 11, 1990, for National Coming Out Day.  It was a request made by Sen. Milton Marks of San Francisco and approved by the Joint Rules Committee of the California state Senate and Assembly. The flag was to be raised at sunrise. After being taken down at the end of the day, it was to be sent to the National Coming Out Day headquarters in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Unfortunately, that raising of the flag lasted only a few hours.

The paper reported that outrage and protests started almost immediately once the flag was flying. Gov. George Deukmejian ordered the flag taken down after only a few hours — a decision that Pete Wilson, his eventual successor, strongly agreed with at the time.

According to the paper:

...state police reported that 'there were threats by veterans about shooting or burning the flag' and that veterans didn't want to have a scheduled rally under a 'queer flag.'

This time around, 29 years later, the raising of the flag seems to have had a different reception.

"In California, we celebrate and support our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community's right to live out loud – during Pride month and every month," said Newsom in a press release. "By flying the pride flag over the State Capitol, we send a clear message that California is welcoming and inclusive to all, regardless of how you identify or who you love."

Online and in person, the reaction has been relatively welcoming. Of the nearly 1,000 responses the governor got to his original tweet, the majority have been in favor of the move and are celebratory. However, some have also argued the flag pole should be reserved for only the state and United States flags.

Other municipalities have debated whether to fly pride flags. The city of Dublin initially said it would not to fly the pride flag over City Hall, but then reversed that decision.

Colorado and Wisconsin have also chosen to fly a rainbow flag this month. On a federal level, the Trump administration has told embassies they can't fly pride flags over their buildings.

While this may be the first successful flying of the flag at the Capitol flagpole, it has previously been hung over balconies both inside and outside the building, which was also illuminated in rainbow colors in June 2015 in celebration of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down bans on same-sex marriage.

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