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Solvang City Council denies application for pride banner displays this June

Posted at 5:41 PM, Mar 02, 2023

This week, the Solvang City Council denied a local nonprofit organization's application to display pride banners throughout the city during Pride Month in June.

Solvang Mayor Mark Infanti tells KSBY the ruling was simply a result of city policy.

"For what had happened Monday night at the Council meeting was for that one specific application and it didn’t meet our guidelines," he said.

Mayor Infanti says the city's Streetlight Banner Program is reserved for City of Solvang sponsored events and designs promoting the Danish theme, and that the application submitted by the local nonprofit organization, Rainbow House Inc., did not align with that criteria.

"We were pretty surprised. We did not know it was going to go the way it did. We had a huge local fundraiser last month where we raised $20,000. So, when we did this, we thought it was going to be full steam ahead," said Matthew Cavalli, executive director of the nonprofit.

With June less than three months away, Cavalli says fellow local organization SYV Pride has plans to host a parade through Solvang City Streets, but since the event is not sponsored by the City itself, the display of Rainbow House Inc.'s banners would not be permitted.

"We have a process for proposing an event in town and the displays would be limited to that type of event on those days. Versus this one, which is a month-long and all over the city," said Mayor Infanti.

He says a change in ruling would only be accomplished through modifications in the policy.

Cavalli meanwhile, says the City of Solvang is due for those revisions.

"Solvang is really big on the Danish heritage, and that is what we based our town off of," Cavalli said. "If that were true, Denmark is one of the most progressive places that finalized gay marriage first for the gay community. So, if we are truly trying to mimic our counterparts, we are way behind the times."

"I apologize for those people that took it personally, that it was a rejection of their opinions. This was a city policy decision that we made to follow our own policies that have been in place for a while," Mayor Infanti added.

He says community members are welcome to present ideas to the City for possible policy changes for their banner program.

Matthew Cavalli adds that the nonprofit plans to reapply for their displays, with modifications to their submission.

The second annual Pride Parade and Festival in Solvang is set for Saturday, June 24th. Their theme is Equality Without Exception.