AUGUSTA — In response to a recent request the city fly a LGBTQ Pride flag, city officials plan to draft a flag policy that’s hopefully in place by next June.

In the shorter term, officials will issue a proclamation showing support amid Pride Month.

Councilors said Thursday they want to show support for the LGBTQ community but don’t want to allow Pride flags to be displayed without a policy in place. Those rules would guide what flags would be allowed, who would decide that question, and where and how flags, other than the U.S., state or municipal flags, would be displayed on city flag poles and property.

When the issue was raised at last week’s council meeting, councilors didn’t want the city to take action until it had a policy in place on flag displays. At-Large Councilor Raegan LaRochelle asked that councilors discuss hanging a Pride flag to show support for all members of the community.

City Manager William Bridgeo said establishing a policy will require input from councilors and research by the city attorney, Stephen Langsdorf.

But in the meantime, Bridgeo said a majority of councilors also expressed interest in writing a resolution expressing the city’s support for LGBTQ community members, which he said councilors could consider at their business meeting next week, in advance of Pride Day on June 28.

Mayor David Rollins and some city councilors expressed concern that allowing flag displays without a policy in place first could bring lawsuits, including by other groups also wishing to have flags or banners, about their causes, displayed.

“It’s about the flag and potential litigation that we might embroil the city into,” said Ward 2 City Councilor Kevin Judkins. “We absolutely support the LGBTQ community.”

Other communities are already marking Pride Month, including neighboring Hallowell. That city painted a crosswalk in the colors of the Progress Pride Flag last week on Central Street at the corner of Water Street in downtown. It also alternates between Pride and American flags on its downtown lamp posts, and displays a Pride flag at City Hall.

On Monday, the Hallowell City Council narrowly approved a policy for the placement of art, structures, flags and other installations on public property, in response to a Pride installation celebrating those who are LGBTQ. But, according to Doug Ide, interim city manager, the Pride flags on city lamp posts were already hung well before the policy was even proposed. And the flags have also been flown on Hallowell city property in previous years.

Langsdorf, Augusta’s city attorney, said he was happy to put together a proposed policy draft to bring back to councilors for consideration.

“I think we can put together a policy that expresses how Augusta wants to do this,” Langsdorf said. “I think we can craft a policy relatively easily that will be satisfactory for the city.”

Councilors began the meeting Thursday by issuing a proclamation in honor of  June 14 being Flag Day.

In preparation for Thursday’s council discussion, Susan Robertson, human resources director and assistant city manager, found flag policies from some other municipalities, including one from Montpelier, Vermont, and two from municipalities in California, as potential model policies for city officials.

Ward 4 Councilor Eric Lind said he understood that the Bangor City Council had the issue on its agenda earlier this year and suggested Augusta look at how Bangor addressed it.

Reached Friday by phone, Bangor City Manager Catherine M. Conlow said she had previously forwarded to Bridgeo a draft flag policy that Bangor councilors considered earlier this year but never adopted, in response to an Irish Heritage Center flag request. Instead, Bangor councilors decided to stay away from allowing additional flags on city poles and instead pointing people to an ordinance that allows for banners to be strung up above Main Street in downtown. A Pride banner has been hanging up downtown as a result, she said.

“We opted to allow for those kinds of expressions, not using our flag poles, but rather having banners downtown as appropriate,” Conlow said.

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