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Montana rejects new library logo over similarity to pride flag

FILE - This undated image provided by the Montana State Library shows the proposed new State Library logo. (Montana State Library Commission/Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

The commission that oversees the Montana State Library has rejected a proposed new logo after a member said the main feature — a prism — brought to mind the rainbow LGBTQ pride flag, something she suggested would set off a political firestorm.

Two commissioners and the state librarian are meeting again this month to suggest ideas for what to do next that they can bring to an Aug. 3 commission meeting. The commission voted 4-3 earlier this month to reject the logo after paying a company $130,000 from non-taxpayer library foundation funds to create it as part of a large library system reboot. The full contract is $292,500 and includes a rollout of the new design.

Commissioner Tammy Hall argued at a June meeting that approving the logo would set up an unnecessary political battle as the library seeks state funding from a Republican-controlled legislature next year. She suggested the logo be toned down to shades of blue, black and gray.

The rejected logo is predominately blue and features four triangles — reddish orange, yellow, green and light blue — that symbolize information being trumpeted outward.

"I think there are two things you can say today to set off a firestorm in the area of information," Hall said. "One is rainbow and one is misinformation. Those are very political, explosive weapons."

Addie Palin with the advertising agency Hoffman York said the "calibration of colors" was taken into consideration as they worked on the logo and that the colors are more muted "to avoid that suggestion of it being some sort of pride mark."

Kevin Hamm, president of Montana Pride, said the opposition to the logo is not really a topic of discussion in the LGBTQ community, but he took offense to the premise of the concerns.

"If you’re going to have a problem with a logo and the first thing that you think is ‘Oh, it’s got bright colors and that’s a little too queer for me,’ you’re a bigot and you have issues," Hamm said. "Don’t throw my community under the bus just because all of a sudden rainbows make you think everything’s gay."

Before the July 5 logo vote, Hall said her vote in opposition had nothing to do with the colors, adding she was "sorry that became such a big issue," but was because she believed the new logo should part of the state government rebranding effort that just got underway.

Library staff and some commissioners said the logo symbolizes the work they do, which includes archiving state government, history and geographic information and making it available to the public.

"I think it's a stretch to think that this represents a pride flag," said commission chair Kenning Arlitsch, noting the progress pride flag has 11 colors and the library logo has four.