Battle Rages Over Control of Castro Rainbow Flag

By Matt Baume
|  Friday, Feb 4, 2011  |  Updated 1:16 PM PDT
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Battle Rages Over Control of Castro Rainbow Flag

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SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 5: A Rainbow flag flies above the San Diego Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center November 5, 2008 in San Diego, California. Proposition 8, which bans same sex marriage, passed in yesterday's Calfironia election. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

It's a familiar sight to locals and tourists alike: a giant rainbow flag flying over the Castro. But whose is it?

There was a minor skirmish this week over operation of the flag when activists requested that it fly at half-staff to honor slain Ugandan civil rights leader David Kato.

Kato, who was gay, was beaten to death in his home several days ago.

Initially, the flag's owners declined a request that it be lowered. The Merchants of Upper Market and Castro generally only observe the death of local members of the LGBT community. In the past, that's included Officer Jane Warner and tour guide Trevor Hailey, according to the BAR.

But after some pressure, the group relented. A rally was held last night to honor Kato, and the flag was lowered to half-mast. Some rally organizers were frustrated by the process, and want to open a dialogue about who should be responsible for operating and maintaining the flag.

Currently, the merchants pay $5,000 a year to insure the flagpole against accidents, and $4,000 a year on the 20-pound flags.

Requests that it be lowered come frequently, a MUMC leader said -- as many as four to eight times a month.

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