Family-values advocates around the nation breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when word spread that a small city in Michigan decided to remove 2-week-old “diversity” stickers from city vehicles which were modeled after the rainbow flag used by homosexuals to express pride in their lifestyle.
Traverse City was bombarded with complaints after it unveiled the design of the bumper sticker last month. Intended to be a symbol of unity in the wake of a series of race- and sexual orientation-motivated crimes, the rainbow stripes overlaid with “We are Traverse City” instead created huge division.
This half-size bumper sticker was placed on vehicles owned by Traverse City, Mich., and distributed free of charge to citizens whose tax money had been used to create it.
“This is a storm in a very little teacup,” quipped Margaret Dodd, a driving force behind the bumper sticker and one of seven commissioners for the century-old city encompassing just over 8 square miles. Dodd said the city has received complaints from as far away as Asia.
City officials decided Tuesday night to stop distributing the stickers and remove them from city vehicles.
The saga began on Tuesday, Dec. 19, when the city announced the stickers would be placed on all city-owned vehicles, including police cars. City officials spent $2,500 to print 10,000 of the half-size bumper stickers, which they distributed without charge and urged citizens to display. Reaction from the public was immediate.
Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, said the city commission had “turned into an advertising agency for homosexual political activists, and residents may decide it’s time to take back T.C. from a handful of city officials intent on force-feeding the homosexual agenda down their throats.”
“Homosexual activists’ allies on the city commission have quickly moved from preaching tolerance of homosexual activity to forcing city police officers to display the official flag of ‘gay pride’ militants who aggressively promote such illegal and life-threatening behavior,” he continued.
Sodomy is still a crime in Michigan.
“Adopting a new city logo featuring the official ‘gay pride’ flag, using tax dollars to print ‘gay pride’ stickers, forcing city employees to display them, and launching a PR campaign
promoting them: that’s only the beginning of city officials’ open and official campaign to advance the homosexual agenda unless citizens who support traditional family values educate their neighbors and take back T.C.,” Glenn added.
But the city insists the sticker was not a new official city logo. Rather, it was an attempt to publicly display unity with all individuals. Dodd designed the sticker, which she says was inspired by another city’s rainbow design logo.
“All I did was cobble together existing stuff,” she remarked. “They’re such incredibly happy-looking stickers. They’re bright, and everybody loved them.”
Dodd is not happy about what she says was ultimately the city manager’s decision to remove the stickers, though she says it will hardly matter since private citizens have already raised enough money to have 5,000 more made.
The city attorney argued the stickers would have to be taken down since its presence on city-owned property would require the government to allow stickers from other groups of people as well. Dodd calls that a “bogus argument.”
“I can well understand [preventing] stickers or any advertisement that would promote one particular group over another,” but that’s not what was happening with the city’s diversity sticker, she said. Traverse City is a somewhat isolated community, explained Dodd, made up mostly of middle-class white people with no minority community – just a few individuals, she said. “The only minority community is the gay and lesbian community,” claimed Dodd.
After a few incidents of racially motivated crimes, such as a cross burning in front of the residence of an African-American, homosexuals were also attacked. In September, three men attacked an employee of SideTraxx, a local bar frequented by members of the city’s homosexual community.
Dodd explained her belief that the rainbow flag is a symbol of diversity not just within the homosexual community, but throughout the world. With her mild accent, the Scotland native noted the International Cooperative Society’s efforts in the 1920s to develop an international co-op symbol celebrating the movement’s growing diversity.
“Eventually, a famous French co-operator, Professor Charles Gide, suggested using the colors of the rainbow for the flag. He pointed out that the rainbow symbolized unity in diversity and the power of light, enlightenment and progress,” states a website dedicated to promoting the Traverse City diversity sticker. “Everybody in the world can recognize a rainbow and grasp its many meanings. Rainbow refers to the image in the sky after a rainstorm, in every country and continent. In cultures around the world, there are stories and legends about the rainbow as a path or gate to a better world or a reward. And, from a scientific viewpoint, the rainbow is in fact a single, indivisible entity.”
Dodd said she understands the rainbow flag is used to symbolize the homosexual movement but believes there is no reason it cannot also be used to symbolize unity of all people.
“Realistically, factually, it’s not exclusively a gay design,” she said. “Are Christians supposed to give up wearing crosses because the white supremacists use it? Absolutely not.”
The commissioner pointed to use of the rainbow by a local Christian bookstore and by Jesse Jackson’s “Rainbow/PUSH Coalition” as evidence that the rainbow is not used just by homosexuals.
But opponents of the homosexual lifestyle and critics of Traverse City’s bumper sticker say the rainbow flag is predominantly known throughout the world today as a symbol of support of homosexuality, regardless of how it has been used in the past. Indeed, Glenn pointed to several websites that recognize the rainbow flag as an official symbol of the homosexual community.
The flag “may represent total diversity to her (Dodd), but to the vast majority of the population, it is the symbol for gay activism — not just gay pride, gay activism,” said Karen Holgate, spokeswoman for the Capitol Resource Institute, a non-profit public policy organization in California. “There is a big difference in being gay and living your life … and that segment of the gay population that wants everyone not to tolerate their lifestyle, but to accept it and promote it, including to young children.”
“Of course no one should ever be mistreated,” she said. “However, there’s a line between mistreating people and disagreeing with them, and you don’t incorporate a city to promote an individual agenda of any certain segment of people. That just doesn’t make sense. It pulls a city government into a social debate context in which they have no place.”
Traverse City has now pulled itself out of the debate, at least where bumper stickers are concerned.