Childish, shameful, appalling. Those are just some of the words constituents used to describe Carlsbad City Councilmember Melanie Burkholder during an emotional meeting on July 11.
Burkholder had proposed the council discuss the possible display of more than a dozen flags at City Hall, including that of the American Confederacy.
She appeared to be making a political point about the council’s previous decision to display the intersectional Pride flag in June. After that decision, Burkholder said constituents suggested flying a multitude of other flags, including the Christian flag, Confederate flag, and the flag of the National Rifle Association. She claimed she had no choice but to introduce these suggestions to council as a matter of “fairness.”
Burkholder made clear that she didn’t personally support the display of these flags, and was only relaying requests from constituents. Most public commenters didn’t seem to buy it. They characterized her actions as a hate-fueled stunt that equates slaveholders and traitors with gay and trans people.
In response to the criticisms, Burkholder took her argument in another direction. She insisted the discord underscored the need for a city flag policy.
“If someone brings something to me, as outlandish as it may be, then we need to have a policy around that to protect ourselves and our taxpayers and that’s what we’re lacking right now,” Burkholder said.
But the council did try to pass a flag policy back in May. It fell short of the four-fifths vote needed to pass. Burkholder was one of two members who voted against it.