Religion

Christian: LGBT Flag For Orlando Victims Is Unbearable

| by Michael Allen
Rainbow FlagRainbow Flag

An unidentified Christian employee of the Hillsborough County Center in Florida is reportedly offended by a LGBT rainbow flag hanging outside the center in remembrance of the 49 victims who were killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando on June 12.

The flag went up on June 15, and County Commissioner Stacy White suggested one day later that it may be offending people with Christian beliefs, notes the Tampa Bay Times.

White sent an email to county human relations director Peggy Rowe on June 16 informing her that he (White) had received a complaint from an unidentified county employee who said the rainbow flag is "nearly unbearable" to walk by and claimed it creates a "hostile work environment."

The flag does not advocate violence or hate, so it is not clear how it promotes a hostile work environment.

White called the flag a "divisive, politically-charged symbol," and wanted to know if it may be a human resources issue.

County commissioners voted 5-1 on June 15 to fly the flag for the rest of June, but White was not there for the vote.

The flag was immediately raised after the meeting.

"It is still – in my view – unconscionable that the county administrator [Mike Merrill] didn’t express to the board that this divisive symbol might create an uncomfortable workplace environment for many of his employees," White wrote to Rowe.

In response, Merrill wrote a memo to commissioners on June 16 stating he was "not aware of any employee complaint or concern having been expressed prior to the Board’s action."

"I believe that I had no reasonable basis to believe that the Board’s action would create a hostile or uncomfortable work environment," Merrill added.

According to Merrill, the county's HR department will investigate the employee's complaint about the flag.

It's not clear who the offended employee could possibly be.

In 2015, White refused to sign a proclamation for the LGBT Tampa Pride event.

White told the Tampa Bay Times via email that he had "no interest in promoting hatred towards any person or group" and that his refusal to sign the proclamation came "from a place of respect."

Regarding the rainbow flag, Commissioner Kevin Beckner recently told Bay News 9: "This is really about a community coming together, expressing solidarity, expressing support, expressing the love for all of the first responders, the victims, the families and all of the LGBT community."

Pastor Ralph Yankee Arnold of Calvary Community Church told the news station: "You want to honor the people who died, yes, but not just because they’re gays. That flag is their symbol, and therefore I think its dishonoring to our city and therefore it shouldn't be here."

Sources: Tampa Bay Times (2), Bay News 9 / Photo Credit: theodoranian/Wikimedia Commons

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