No Pride Flags Flying in Williamson County
WilCo commissioners deny request to fly both LGBTQ and POW flags at county buildings
In an unsurprising outcome, the Williamson County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, June 18, denied a request to fly the LGBTQ Pride flag outside two county facilities. WilCo Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace KT Musselman and Pct. 4 JP Stacy Hackenberg made the request, along with asking permission to fly the POW/MIA flag the week of Veterans Day in November. This, too, was denied. County Judge Bill Gravell opened the item for public comment with a reminder to "be kind" in his presence because "nice matters," then proceeded to let one speaker voice her opinion that LGBTQ youth commit suicide at higher rates due to their "unnatural" way of life. Gravell and the court ultimately decided to reject the JPs' request not because of the subject of the flags, but because they had no procedures in place to decide what flags wouldn't be allowed in the future. While only three people spoke in support – including local politico and LGBTQ activist Zach Rodriguez, who currently works in Hackenberg's office – the conversation itself signifies an air of change in the county, which a slice of Austin calls home. As Rodriguez said during his public comment, referencing a former boyfriend who "wouldn't hold my hand in Taylor because he was afraid of getting killed," the request was not intended to divide the county, but "unite" it. But for now, commissioners agreed by a vote of 4-0 that only the WilCo flag could be flown (on its own pole) alongside the U.S. and Texas flags at county buildings. Gravell, who posted polls on Facebook and Twitter asking WilCo residents if they were "in favor" of adding the rainbow flag, said thousands of people responded – on Facebook, he said, 88% of people were opposed. However, he failed to note that on Twitter, 81% of responders supported flying the flag.