Rainbow flag won't fly atop Space Needle during gay pride

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by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 22 at 8:26 AM

SEATTLE -- For the past two years, a giant rainbow flag waved above the Space Needle during Seattle's gay pride celebration, but that will not be the case this weekend. 

"As we don't raise any flag but the American flag on a regular basis, there are no plans to raise the Rainbow Flag again this year," the Space Needle said this week in a statement. "We will continue to support equal rights and actively foster these causes as we have in the past."

The decision comes during a year when Washington will vote on same-sex marriage, but a Space Needle spokeswoman said politics had nothing to do with its decision.

Still, many in Seattle's gay and lesbian community are upset.

"I got really frustrated about it," said Howard Russell, who plans on attending pride festivities this weekend.  "It's a rainbow.  We see the rainbow in the sky every day. ... Why would you not want to see it hanging from something as beautiful as the Space Needle?"

The Space Needle initially nixed flying the rainbow flag last year, but then changed its mind, challenging Seattle to raise $50,000 for LGBT charities. The goal was met and the flag was raised.

But there are no plans for such a fundraising challenge this year. 

Joseph Backholm of Preserve Marriage Washington, a group that opposes same-sex marriage and pushed for a statewide vote this November, said businesses should realize that many do not support gay marriage.

"Why would a business make a decision to do something that they know is going to put them at odds with a large percentage of their customer base?" Backholm asked. 

Pride organizers said they were "saddened" to learn the rainbow flag would not fly again, but they are staying focused on this weekend's events, including the parade, which starts at 11 a.m. Sunday.

'We raise OUR flag wherever we can," Adam Rosencrantz, president of Seattle Out and Proud, said in a statement. 

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