SAN LEANDRO -- A rainbow flag will fly above City Hall early next week as a sign of solidarity with those seeking to overturn California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act in the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court.

City council members voted unanimously Monday night to raise the rainbow flag in place of the city's flag.

Following San Leandro's lead, the Berkeley City Council was expected Tuesday to also approve the raising of a rainbow flag and Oakland also will fly the flag.

The actions coincide with next Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court hearing challenging the constitutionality of the 2008 Prop. 8 same sex marriage ban. On Wednesday, the court will hear a challenge to the denial of benefits for legally married gay and lesbian couples under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Rulings in both cases are expected by late June.

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy said it will be the first time City Hall has raised the rainbow flag, and the move signals that "the San Leandro of the past is not the San Leandro of the present. It's not the San Leandro of the future." He was asked to consider raising the flag by the national nonprofit Courage Campaign advocacy group.

"I think it is one of the defining civil rights issues of our day," Cassidy said at Monday's meeting. "Flying the flag is a statement by the City Council saying we support marriage equality for same sex couples and that marriage is a fundamental human right that all couples who love each other should be able to enjoy. And we also want to send a message that San Leandro is a tolerant community, that we welcome all individuals to our City."


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Two San Leandro residents and the president of the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club spoke in support of the item Monday before the council vote was taken.

Ashly McGlone covers San Leandro, San Lorenzo and the Washington Township Health Care District. Contact her at 510-293-2463. Follow her at Twitter.com/AshlyReports.