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Cole County, Mo., reverses decision and will fly flags at half-staff to honor Orlando victims

The Associated Press

Cole County, Mo., the home of the state Capitol, sparked outrage after voting Tuesday morning not to lower flags flying over county buildings to half-staff to honor those who died in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

So much outrage, in fact, that the county reversed its decision Tuesday afternoon.

The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported that the county’s presiding commissioners voted 2-1 against lowering the flags to honor the victims of the massacre at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Fla., that left 49 people dead and 53 injured.

While the commissioners expressed sympathy for the victims, they worried that lowering the flag to half-staff too frequently would reduce its meaning. They denied that the decision had anything to do with the fact that the shooting took place in a gay club.

“I want to honor those who have served our country, but we can’t lower it for every event like this that occurs,” Commissioner Kris Scheperle told the paper. “I do feel for those who were gunned down, but I don’t think it warrants lowering the flag.”

But after a barrage of calls and social media requests, the commissioners decided to lower the flag after all.

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation Sunday ordering the flag to half-staff at all federal buildings until Thursday.

When Charlotte veteran Allen Thornwell lowered his company’s American flag to half-staff on Memorial Day, he says he did not think to ask permission or consider the possibility that he had done anything wrong last Monday at Time Warner Cable’s ser

Katie Stuckenschneider, communications director for Promo, the state’s largest LGBT rights organization, told The Star that not adhering to the president’s proclamation “is beyond hurtful to the victims and their families and the entire LGBT community.”

“To the LGBT community in Cole County,” Stuckenschneider said, “know there are people that support and love you.”

Stuckenschneider said she’s glad Cole County decided to do the right thing, noting that the LGBT community in Missouri “will not be silenced.”

Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of ACLU of Missouri, released a statement calling Cole County’s original decision not to lower the flag “very disappointing.”

“The ACLU stands with the LGBT community and believes now is a time for all to come together to heal,” Mittman said, “not react in ways that further divide us.”

Last year, Dent County in southeast Missouri stirred controversy when its commissioners voted to fly the flags at the courthouse and judicial building below half-staff on the 26th day of every month for a year to mourn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Dent County’s decision regarding the flag was eventually rescinded.

The Heartland Men's Chorus held a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting in Orlando at its concert Sunday at the Folly Theater in downtown Kansas City.

Kansas Citians gathered Sunday night on Barney Allis Plaza to show support for and solidarity with the victims of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

The following counties and cities are all flying flags at half-staff in accordance with President Obama’s proclamation

Jackson County

Clay County

Platte County

Cass County

Johnson County

Independence

Lee’s Summit

Olathe

Have not heard from Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan.

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