The newly elected Mayor of Utica in his first year so far has taken a lot of beatings when it comes to policy changes and decisions he's had to make, most notably a 14% city tax rate increase. Now there are some people calling him a "bigot" due to a policy that will prohibit a Gay Pride flag being flown at Utica City Hall during the month of June, or Pride Month.

A New Complaint Arises

As the month of June is quickly approaching many people are starting to plan for various Pride related events and celebrations across the city. One of those recognitions won't be happening this year at Utica City Hall.

A newly instituted policy regarding flag raising ceremonies and flags being displayed at City Hall would prevent the rainbow Pride flag from being flown. Many are now calling Galime a bigot and homophobic due to the institution of the policy. But, the policy doesn't JUST exclude the Pride flag.

Past Policy from the Past Administration

According to Utica Mayor Michael Galime, the prior administration in the City of Utica would pick and choose which flags they would allowed to be flown. Galime even stated during the prior administration, "a Nazi flag had requested to be flown at City Hall, but was denied."

The issue this policy brings up is one that is all too familiar for leaders in the City of Boston.

History Galime Did Not Want Repeated

The City of Boston, MA was sued back in 2022 over an issued raised by a Christian organization being denied a permit to fly a Christian flag featuring a cross at City Hall. According the Boston Bar Association website,

In its May 2nd , 2022 opinion in Shurtleff v. City of Boston, 142 S. Ct. 1583 (2022), the Supreme Court held that the City of Boston violated the First Amendment by refusing to allow a religious organization to raise a religious flag in City Hall Plaza.

The "this but not that" policy is what got the Massachusetts municipality in hot water and an example that Mayor Galime is trying to avoid.

Changes to the Flag Raising Policy in Utica


On WIBX's 'First News with Keeler in the Morning' Thursday, Galime called in to defend his position and set the record straight. Galime explained that January 2nd is when he took office and began to look at ALL city policies and what needed to be changed.

The flag raising permit issue was one of many. Galime said,

We are a community of refugees and immigrants across the board. Rather than saying no more flag raising because this is going to get out of hand, the policy is the only flags that will be going up the flagpoles are going to be flags of nations, countries, states and flags of natural origin if you will. It hasn't been a problem until now.

He referenced toward the end of January when it was Catholic Schools week, organizations approached him and the administration about raising a flag in honor of it. That request was denied, per the policy, but Galime said he would do whatever he could to ensure the city did what was possible to help recognize it, including a proclamation and attendance at their event.

His opinion is no different when it comes to Pride Month.

Taking Issue with Being Called a Bigot

Galime took major issue with the fact that individuals would accuse him of being homophobic. In fact, he claimed his mother was likely in tears listening to her son on the radio talking about this fact. Galime says,

This whole discussion that I am a bigot now is absolutely insane! I have family members who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and the Pride groups. I have friends, people who have worked on my campaign. I mean the whole thing is absolutely disappointing to me.

He is trying to get the local government focused on important things like infrastructure and how the city should be run and this is just merely a distraction.

A listener sent in an app message to Galime asking if he was involved with an Irish flag raising ceremony for St. Patrick's Day. In keeping with the policy he instituted, he acknowledged he did as it was a flag that was from a country of origin, not a flag belonging to a particular group or organization.

This Is the Policy and There is No Going Back

Many people will continue to voice displeasure and be critical of Mayor Galime for this decision, but in thinking about the livelihood of the city and the risk of possible litigation, he made the decision and is standing by it.

Again, if Pride groups want to have the mayor involved in Pride Month celebrations or events, he is 100% opened to that and willing to help in any way possible. The flag however will not be flying at city hall.

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