Denton City Council members on Tuesday are expected to revisit council member Deb Armintor’s request to raise flags at government buildings for Juneteenth and LGBT Pride Month.
That is according to a presentation included in Tuesday’s meeting agenda that shows staff members conducted “preliminary research” of how a handful of cities have handled such requests, including Dallas, where council members adopted a resolution directing the city manager in May to fly the rainbow pride flag bearing the Dallas seal this month and each June thereafter.
The agenda item on Tuesday comes a week after Armintor, the at-large Place 5 member, asked during a 1-minute pitch to raise the flags to commemorate both events. But that effort was met with procedural arguments raised by fellow member Jesse Davis and affirmed by Mayor Gerard Hudspeth.
“Nationwide and locally, Black communities and LGBTQ communities of color have historically and currently seen their rights, lives and bodies at risk, and have consistently resisted and spoken out against oppressive legislation and practices,” Armintor said a week ago. “In spite of the objections of a number of naysayers, raising Juneteenth and Philly pride flags are a zero-liability way to advertise that Denton city government doesn’t just tolerate and support but visibly celebrates these two nonpartisan holidays.”
But Davis challenged that request, arguing that the 1-minute pitch cannot be used to decide policy.
The 1-minute pitch concept was proposed by council member Paul Meltzer during the council’s 2020 retreat. Council members must ask for their pitches to be placed on meeting agendas. During work sessions, they are given one minute to show why they believe their items of interest warrant council members’ and staff members’ time. If four of the seven council members do not agree, those items do not advance to work sessions.
In work sessions, under the Texas Open Meetings Act, governing bodies may not vote on agenda items. They may only discuss them.
Interim City Manager Sarah Hensley, in a May 22 email to Armintor, agreed to “order some flags.”
“We will … place them at City Hall, Police Headquarters and Main Library,” the email read. “We will place a blurb in next Friday report to let all Council Members know! Great idea!”
That was before Hensley reversed herself and asked that Armintor ask council members to approve the request or ask for staff direction. During the June 8 council meeting, Armintor received a consensus for a work session to consider the request.
In a letter dated the day of the meeting from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas to council members, attorneys representing the ACLU said the city has the “ability to commemorate LGBTQ Pride Month and Juneteenth … by flying flags at city hall to honor these events” and that it’s “well within its authority” to do so.
The council’s work session on Tuesday is scheduled for 2 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. It is the first in which a hybrid approach for council meetings will be used. Council and staff members who are not ready to return to in-person meetings will be allowed to continue attending them remotely.