For the first time, a pride flag is flying over the Wisconsin State Capitol. While Democrats feel it’s showing support for the LBGTQ community, it’s drawing criticism from some Republican lawmakers who are calling it divisive.
Growing up gay in Central Wisconsin, Ryan Goszkowicz feared going out in public with his boyfriend. Now to see the colors of the rainbow flying high above the state capitol, he feels accepted, as do other members of the LBGTQ community.
“I don’t have to pretend,"Goszkowicz said. "Like it makes me feel that I can be myself."
“It shows equality and we’ve been fighting for it for a long time,” Kenosha resident, Autumn Jackson said.
The move comes after Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order calling for it to be raised for the rest of Pride Month.
He wants to send a message of inclusivity, but some Republican lawmakers disagree with the move, including Representative Scott Allen of Waukesha who tweeted, “Is this any more appropriate than erecting the Christian flag over the Capitol?”
He followed up with a statement calling the raising of the flag “divisive” because it, “advocates a behavior or lifestyle that some Wisconsin residents may not condone.”
Republican Sen. David Craig of Big Bend also tweeted, “The US and Wisconsin flags are flown over us as unifying symbols for all Wisconsinites. The governor’s action today is in no doubt a statement to advance a cause. The only cause that the Capitol flags should represent is fifty states united in one republic.”
“It’s not supposed to represent all of Wisconsin," Goszkowicz said. "The point is to highlight a certain aspect of Wisconsin that doesn’t necessarily get that much outreach."
Technically, religious flags can’t be flown due to separation of church and state, but the governor has the authority to decide what flags can fly over the Capitol, so under this context, a number of flags could qualify.
However, on this topic, opinions vary.
“I couldn’t care less if the pole all the way to the ground was full of flags because that’s all it is. It’s a piece of fabric that can make people feel a lot more loved,” Goszkowicz said.
“If it’s going to represent positive energy then do it,” Milwaukee resident, Vincent Morrow said.
Stephanie Pfeifer from Menomonee Falls welcome other flags except those that can be political.
“Raising the rainbow flag isn’t the same as raising one that is for a special interest group,” Pfeifer said.
To add some context, the flags that always fly at the state capitol are the American flag, the state flag and the Prisoners of War flag.
The Legislative Reference Bureau told TODAY’S TMJ4, the only record they could find of another flag flying at the capitol is a Green Bay Packers flag in 1998.