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10K Sign Petition Calling For Removal Of LGBTQ Flag Flying Above State Capitol

Wisconsin Family Council: Flag Doesn't Represent All Wisconsinites

A rainbow flag flies over the state Capitol in recognition of "Pride Month"
Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order to fly a rainbow flag over the state Capitol for the remainder of June 2019 in recognition of “Pride Month.” Laurel White/WPR

Ten-thousand Wisconsinites have signed a petition calling on Gov. Tony Evers to remove the gay pride flag flying over the state Capitol.

Evers issued an executive order on June 7 raising the flag in recognition of Pride Month. It was the first time in state history the rainbow flag has flown over the Capitol dome in Madison.

Evers’ action received immediate backlash from some conservative Republican lawmakers, including state Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, who called the act divisive.

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Less than a week later, Wisconsin Family Council started collecting signatures for a petition calling on the governor to remove the flag. According to their website, the council is a nonprofit that promotes “marriage, family, life and liberty.”

Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Council, said flying a flag at the Capitol is a special privilege that should be reserved for flags serving everyone. The POW-MIA flag, which is periodically flown above the Capitol, represents everyone in the state, Appling said.

“The state Capitol and other public buildings in the state represent all the people,” Appling said. “And giving some sort of special recognition to a very narrow special interest group is inappropriate.”

By delivering the petitions in person Tuesday to the governor, Appling said the group hopes Evers realizes there is a large number of people who oppose the gay pride flag.

“We want him to take the flag down even as early as today,” Appling said.

Steve Starkey, executive director of OutReach LGBT Community Center in Madison, said the flag doesn’t exclude anyone.

“I don’t think that LGBTQ people are a special interest group,” Starkey said. “We are a class of people who have been historically denied the same rights as other citizens. We’ve been denied the right to marry, the right to serve in the military, the right to have basic protections that the general population has. To say that that’s a special interest is a very twisted way of looking at things.”

When visitors come to the Capitol, Starkey said, they can feel welcomed and affirmed by the sight of the flag.

Evers hasn’t commented publicly on the petition.