The Montgomery City Council on Tuesday voted to override a mayoral veto and reimplement a city-wide ban on all non-governmental flags and other symbols on city property.
Dubbed the “neutrality resolution,” it will prohibit the city from flying various flags to honor causes, from placing Christmas decorations – or decorations celebrating other holidays – and from taking part in various observances of charitable causes, such as using pink lights outside of City Hall to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed originally vetoed the resolution, telling the Montgomery Advertiser that it “goes too far” and tramples on city officials’ authority to determine what’s best for the city on a day-to-day basis.
“The city has a right to speak in support of any issue, whether those are threats to synagogues or other houses of worship, or whether those are threats to any particular group, or whether it’s in support of any charitable cause or anything that’s going on,” Reed told the newspaper in October.
The council voted 5-3 to approve the resolution, which can’t be undone by executive order and can only be altered or amended by a vote of the city council.
The Council took up the issue after councilman Brantley Lyons introduced a resolution to designate a month “Christian Heritage Month,” but was forced to withdraw it after local religious leaders spoke out against it, according to the Advertiser. One local minister told the Council that the Christian Heritage flag, which the city would have been required to display under Lyons’ resolution, was not a symbol that would make many people feel welcome in the city.
Lyons abruptly withdrew the resolution. When reporters attempted to ask him about it, Lyons, the elected representative of an entire city district, told them he doesn’t speak to the media.
Reed also told the Advertiser that the hypocrisy of including “birthplace of the confederacy” on the city seal while claiming neutrality wasn’t lost on him.