Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Larry Ahern has his panties in a bunch over gay pride trumping pro-life at City Hall

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Last year, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said he would be proudly flying the St. Pete Pride flag above City Hall in all its ostentatious, rainbowed glory. He says he would do so to promote equality, diversity and inclusion.

Kriseman’s decision is not sitting well with some people

According to state Rep. Larry Ahern, some 20 people have emailed Kriseman asking to also fly a pro-life flag over City Hall.

“Mayor Rick Kriesman (sic) refuses to respond to over twenty requests to fly the Pro-Life flag over city hall in September,” Ahern wrote on his Facebook page. “Why no response? Who determines what flag will be flown? Gay Pride, no problem.”

He then asks, “is this religious discrimination?”

A group of vehement pro-lifers want their flag flown in September to promote their 40-days for Life anti-abortion effort. The biggest part of the more than a month-long process is its call for “constant vigil” in which pro-lifers stage a 24-hour a day prayer vigil outside a Planned Parenthood or other abortion clinics.

“It also serves as a call to repentance for those who work at the abortion center and those who patronize the facility,” the effort’s website reads.

In other words, “We’re right and you’re wrong. REPENT!”

The pro-life movement sends a message of inclusion. You can be included so long as you believe the same thing they do. Otherwise, REPENT!

The issue came up during a St. Pete City Council meeting last Thursday in which one man supporting flying the pro-life flag took his message to the elected board. His message was similar to that of Ahern’s – why fly the Pride flag, but not the pro-life?

He begged the question; if Kriseman wants to promote equality, he should embrace all mentalities, include those of anti-abortionists. He carried the flag with him and explained he wasn’t allowed to unfold it – the implication was this was some sort of city policy – but described it in great detail.

“It just says pro-life.”

There are any number of things Ahern should be worried about. Health care. The state budget. Public perception after having walked out on the legislative session early.

But, of course, having blue flags waving over City Hall is certainly a priority too.

Kriseman’s (or Kriesman, as Ahern called him not once, but twice in his Facebook post) communication director, Ben Kirby responded in his own Facebook post.

“The Florida legislature is in such good shape that a State Representative named Larry Ahern is now worried about the Pride flag that flies above City Hall during St. Pete Pride weekend,” Kirby wrote.

Kirby explained the city flies that flag because the event has a multi-million dollar impact on the city and “it’s the right thing to do.”

The idea of Pride is not just to have a bunch of flamboyantly homosexual dudes in speedos romping around the city; it’s to promote the idea that people should be treated equally – all people – even if they choose to wear a pink thong or a neon green boa and patent leather platforms.

The idea behind pro-life is to push legislation that forces women into invasive and un-necessary procedures in hope it might deter them from making a healthcare choice they deem evil.

It’s about casting judgment over people who think a woman should have the right to decide what she does with and how she cares for her body.

The last thing the pro-life movement is about is equality or inclusion. In fact, some would argue it sends a message of hate – unless, of course, you’re fortunate enough to be an unborn fetus. In which case, you’re good. Just don’t turn out to be gay, mmm-kay.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email [email protected]

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