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Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Denmark writes to Solvang Mayor on LGBTQIA+ inclusion

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Solvang approves Pride event, but rejects rainbow colored crosswalks.

SOLVANG, Calif. – The Danish "Lord Mayor" of Copenhagen, Denmark, Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, wrote a letter to Solvang's Mayor, urging the Santa Ynez Valley Danish-themed city to work toward more inclusivity for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Solvang Mayor Mark Infanti said each member of the Solvang City Council received a copy of the letter last Thursday, April 13.

This letter discusses events in and near Solvang, such as the 2022 summer burning of Pride flags in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Lord Mayor Andersen began her letter by writing, "Your city's status as 'the Danish capital of America' is something that you rightly cherish." She also mentioned the bond created between their two cities.

She then wrote about Copenhagen and Denmark having a "proud tradition of acceptance and inclusion of LGBTI+ people."

"You'll know already of Denmark's long-standing position as one of the most progressive countries in the world," Lord Mayor Andersen wrote.

She continued to list years where LGBTQIA+ communities held events in the city of Copenhagen, dating back to the 1970s. She mentioned Copenhagen hosted WorldPride in 2021.

"It is against this background that I was surprised to read about the opposition from some of your council members to ideas put forward by your LGBTI+ community for Solvang to embrace Santa Ynez Valley Pride publicly and visibly. I was also shocked to read of the burning of the Pride flags shortly after Pride events last [2022] summer."

Lord Mayor Andersen

Below are recent coverage items related to events mentioned above:

News Channel 3-12 reached out to Mayor Infanti for comment on this letter. He said he responded to the Lord Mayor, but declined to share the details of his response.

"Instead I would prefer to respond to the comments in the Copenhagen Pride article directly," said Infanti.

Copenhagen Pride published the article Infanti mentioned on Monday, Apr. 17 about the Lord Mayor's letter to Solvang, titled "'Danish' town in California urged to 'embrace Pride' by Copenhagen’s Mayor."

In response to where Copenhagen Pride's article mentioned the Pride flags burned in Solvang, Infanti said "That is also untrue! I have heard of that occurring in the valley, but not in Solvang."

Within the article, the author wrote "Copenhagen Pride has said that it will replace every flag burned in Solvang last summer with two new flags. They will be sent to California in time for this summer’s Pride."

In August of 2022, a local church replaced one of the Pride flags stolen from its property weeks earlier.

As for the Rainbow House's submission to Solvang City Council for rainbow colored crosswalks and light pole banners, Infanti said "The issue with the crosswalks is the minor violation of state standards for crosswalks and more importantly the safety of the horse drawn trolly (Honen)" and other horses.

In March 2023, Solvang City Council voted three to two against the proposal – Infanti being one of the three voting against it.

The Solvang Mayor said three different local horse trainers informed him that "horses perceive colors differently and could easily avoid, sidestep, refuse to cross or balk at the colors," potentially harming the horses and/or their riders.

Infanti said he spoke to "the individual responsible for the application and he has agreed to eliminate the crosswalk from his application and changed his banners to say 'Welcome' in Danish."

"That will be before the Solvang City Council at the next meeting and I am hopeful that it will be granted," Infanti said.

Solvang's next City Council agenda has the item listed for a meeting on Monday Apr. 24.

Within Copenhagen Pride's article which Infanti's statements are directed toward, the author quoted Lars Henriksen, Political Chairperson of Copenhagen Pride, who said "I was stunned to hear about the opposition to Santa Ynez Valley Pride and smaller Pride events in Solvang, including the burning of rainbow flags."

In response, Infanti wrote "The article states that Solvang opposed Pride taking place in town. That is incorrect. The Santa Ynez Valley Pride organization has already been grated rights to have a parade and event in town on June 24th."

The Copenhagen Pride article quoted Henriksen further, "We had to ask our Lord Mayor to write to Mayor Infanti and we sincerely hope he hears her friendly message."

In Lord Mayor Andersen's letter, she said this "opposition to Pride does not reflect the genuine warmth and acceptance of Pride" as seen in Copenhagen and the rest of Denmark.

"In the spirit of friendship between our cities, I urge you to give Santa Ynez Valley Pride and your local LGBTI+ community the full support of your City Council, in the same way that the Municipality of Copenhagen wholeheartedly supports Copenhagen Pride for the benefit of all Copenhageners, and to show the world that respect and acceptance are vital elements in a modern, welcoming society."

Lord Mayor Andersen

Lord Mayor Andersen finished off the letter with "Echoing the theme of Copenhagen Pride 2023, we should #ComeTogether for love, equality and human rights, in Copenhagen and in Solvang."

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
Copenhagen Denmark
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Lily Dallow

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