Bell County officials drew applause from local residents when the commissioners court rejected a controversial proposal to declare June as “LGBT Pride Month.”

But the one commissioner who supported the Pride proclamation, Louie Minor, is stirring more controversy among residents of the Central Texas community by displaying a “Pride” flag in a window of the Bell County courthouse.

Minor is a self-described progressive who says he’s the first openly gay elected official in the county.

The Pride Month proposal was on the agenda for Monday’s commissioners court meeting. A roomful of citizens showed up to speak on the issue but never got the chance, as no other commissioner seconded Minor’s motion to consider the proclamation.

“When that item failed for lack of a second, the room exploded in applause,” said a Bell County resident who attended the meeting but asked that her name be withheld. “Citizens clearly expressed opposition to celebrating this issue.”

A commissioner displaying a Pride flag where it can be seen from outside the courthouse could be construed as being approved by Bell County, she pointed out.

“Only U.S. and Texas flags, and possibly a county or city flag, should be flown on local government buildings, as those are the only flags that are unifying,” she said, adding that the county should have a specific policy to that effect.

“Other flags create division and would distract commissioners from important work by turning them into flag-schedulers to give all a chance to have their particular flag flown,” she said.

After the court declined to consider the Pride proclamation, Minor claimed “bigotry prevailed.”

His fellow court members disputed Minor’s charge, saying LGBT people are afforded the same respect under the law as other Bell County residents.

Commissioner Bobby Whitson said he recognizes all members of the community for good things they do, but his faith prevents him from applauding the sins of homosexuality and pride. “I cannot applaud any of us in any sin that we may perform,” he said.

Judge David Blackburn added, “The rights and responsibilities of those associated with the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transsexual, queer, asexual, and other similar movements should, in my opinion, be no less and no greater than any other member of our community.”

The first LGBT Pride event in Bell County was held in 2015, organized by local Democrats including Irene Andrews, a lesbian who ran for county commissioner in 2012. Minor said that Andrews proffered the Pride Month proclamation.

Over the past few years, local Pride organizations have been cropping up across small-town Texas, in places like Temple in Bell County, where they’ve hosted “family-friendly” drag shows and similar events, and Taylor in neighboring Williamson County, which this week promoted an “LGBTQ+ Pride Day” proclamation.

Despite Bell County’s rejection of a Pride Month declaration, Minor hung a “progress Pride” flag in the window of his courthouse office, where it is visible to the public.

That variation of the rainbow flag represents people with an array of sexual preferences and those who claim a gender different than their sex, as well as people with HIV/AIDS and people of color.

Residents can contact commissioners court members to express opinions about the Pride flag being hung in a way that suggests Bell County approved the celebration and display.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.