Letters from the Community


It was right

I’m proud to live in Washington State where Gov. Jay Inslee has state agencies fly the rainbow flag for the month of June in support of LGBTQ people.

I was especially glad that DSHS in Goldendale kept the rainbow flag flying in spite of local criticism, including that of the editor of the Sentinel. I can’t imagine what it is like to grow up in such an environment.

I have been thinking that the country has made such great strides in understanding and protecting the rights of the LGBTQ. But recent statistics published by the Trevor Project show that at least 1.2 million LGBTQ kids age 13-18 seriously consider suicide each year. According to a Harris Poll, there has been a decline in acceptance of LGBTQ people among 18-34 year olds over the past two years. I think this is why we need to have those flags fly.

Shelley Baxter

White Salmon

(Editor’s note: the front-page article about the flag reported on the contentiousness surrounding it. The story said nothing critical about the flag.)

It was wrong

Flags are symbols; they mean things.

Flags represent the beliefs, values and goals of a group, whether it be a nation, city, religion, ethnic group, political party or service organization. A flag can be a rallying point to unite a people. The U.S. flag is a rallying point for Americans—all Americans—regardless of ancestry, economic status, political affiliation, religious practice, sex, age, or gender identification. The U.S. flag unites us as a people, as does our state flag. Ethnic and religious flags distinguish subsets of a people, uniting the subset but sometimes causing division within the large group. Political flags are divisive by nature, declaring differences and conflicts in ideologies and agendas.

In the United States of America, it is customary and appropriate (and mandated) to fly the U.S. and state flags near the entrance of government buildings. The POW/MIA flag is often flown in addition, which is appropriate, as it represents Americans who fought, suffered, and died defending our freedoms. It’s the same with with military service branch flags. At government facilities, it is not appropriate to fly flags that represent, distinguish, support, or affirm the beliefs, values, ideologies, aspirations, or goals of ethnic, religious, political, ideological, or gender subsets.

We are Americans. Our tax-supported government facilities serve Americans. The flags must represent Americans, period. It was wrong for Gov. Inslee to fly the LGBTQ flag in Olympia, and it was wrong for the Department of Social and Health Services in Goldendale to fly it.

We have no reason to believe that Gov. Inslee will change his mind, but we do hope that the administrator of DSHS in Goldendale will not make such an error in judgement again. Providers of tax-funded services must not use tax-funded flag poles to make political or social statements.

Mark and Cheri Harris


No, it was right

American society is comprised of many groups of people, representing various races, beliefs, or other differences—nonetheless, all American citizens, whether by oath or implicitly, support the U.S. Constitution, which begins with, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility …”

Until the Trump administration’s xenophobic agenda, domestic tranquility manifested in, at least, the appearance of tolerating differences. The notion of dividing Americans is antithetical to forming a more perfect union. And those intolerant of differences could be subject to justice under due process of the law.

U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 7; https://bit.ly/31Uxq8u clarifies whether flying this flag with the American flag is “illegal at worst.” This essentially states that it’s OK, if flown under the American flag.

American “core beliefs” (defined by the U.S. Constitution, Amendments and Statutes), people’s humanity, and individual rights are all being respected and acknowledged by the State of Washington when flags representing different groups fly under the American flag. Flying a flag acknowledging Cinco de Mayo, LGBT pride, or pro-peace disrespects no one and underscores that we're a unified society comprised of many groups, striving for a more perfect union.

Are conservative members of our community the only group that must be respected? Of course not! It would be disrespectful of American core beliefs, if such members would not, at least, tolerate other groups they disagree with.

America is now engaged in nine undeclared wars. With the loss of thousands of American soldiers’ lives, hundreds of thousands of citizen’s lives in these countries, and at a cumulative cost of over $5 trillion, we need to promote peace. With respect for members of the armed forces and their lives, flying a flag symbolizing peace is the least we can do.

Steve Heitmann

White Salmon


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