As many local governments hoist LGBTQ+ Pride Flags outside government buildings this month, Orange County Supervisors this morning will consider whether to limit the flags flown outside county offices to county, state and U.S. flags. 

It comes at the request of OC Supervisor Andrew Do, part of the Republican board minority, who didn’t respond to requests for comment on Monday. 

Another county supervisor, Vicente Sarmiento, says it appears to be “a direct response to a request” that he and Supervisor Katrina Foley had “brought forward to raise the Pride Flag.”

It’s a debate that often plays out along political party lines, like most recently in Huntington Beach.

Democrats have a slight majority on the five-member OC Board of Supervisors, consisting of Supervisor Doug Chaffee, Foley and Sarmiento. 

Sarmiento said they planned a formal proclamation at today’s meeting and requested a discussion be scheduled to purchase and raise the rainbow flag at the Civic Center. 

“Regrettably, Chairman Wagner refused to agendize the proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month and the request to fly the Pride Flag during June. I am working with Supervisor Foley’s office to plan an alternate event celebrating Pride in Orange County,” Sarmiento said in an emailed response to questions.

In a Monday phone interview, Wagner said Sarmiento and Foley’s discussion requests, along with Do’s proposal, all missed a 48-hour window to place items on the meeting agenda without his sign-off as board chairman. 

He said he opted to go with Do’s item for the Tuesday meeting, “knowing that it inevitably would tee up the entire discussion.” 

Wagner, a Republican, said he supports the idea of limiting flags at the civic center to OC’s three jurisdictions. 

“At some point, if you open up to advocacy for or against anything, it’s hard for us to then say no, because once you make it a public, it’s essentially a public forum. So the idea right now is that it’s just we’ve got three flight poles. We’ve got three jurisdictions that everybody agrees we are in: California, we’re in the United States, and we’re in Orange County.”

Do’s flag policy proposal comes right at the start of Pride Month – a time of celebration for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender visibility.

It’s also a time of political football every year, when officials in cities like Huntington Beach – and in prior years, Westminster, Irvine, Orange and Rancho Santa Margarita – paint LGBTQ+ pride as a “divisive” issue in their community, often drawing large crowds of public speakers.

[Read: As More OC Cities Fly Pride Flag Each Year, Others Still Concerned it Could Divide Residents]

On Friday, County of Orange spokesperson Molly Nichelson said Pride Flags don’t currently fly outside county offices.

Supervisor Katrina Foley, in a Monday phone interview, said she wasn’t sure what was driving Do’s item.

“I haven’t had a chance to speak to supervisor Do about this. I know that supervisor Do has long supported our LGBTQ community. So I don’t I don’t know if that’s what it’s about. But all I can say about my position is that, when I was Mayor of Costa Mesa, we approved flying the Pride Flag, and it still flies there.”

Democrats have a slight majority on the five-member OC Board of Supervisors, consisting of Foley, Sarmiento and Doug Chafee. 

Earlier this year, the Huntington Beach City Council’s Republican majority voted to ban flying the Pride flag – along with a host of others – on city properties, calling it exclusionary. 

Similar to what Do is proposing, Surf City Council members restricted the flags to the national, state and city flags – along with some military flags and the county flag. 

But unlike the County of Orange, Huntington Beach used to fly the Rainbow Flag during Pride Month.  

[Read: Huntington Beach City Council Ditches Pride Flag By Restricting Flags Flying Over City Hall]

While the anti-flag crowd tore it to physical shreds at the speaker podium during those deliberations, council members who voted to ban the Pride Flag argued that their policy was in fact “inclusionary” of people who find the flag upsetting.

“For me, it’s not controversial,” said Foley on Monday, who added that any policy decision around the flag requires three votes on the Board of Supervisors. “Hopefully, people will be open minded and we can have just a rational, non-emotional, non-divisive conversation.”

Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC reporter. Contact him at or on Twitter @brandonphooo.

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