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SF Lawmaker Refuses to Recite Pledge of Allegiance

“I think I am very loyal to the country.”

There's not liberty and justice for all, Jane Kim says. And until there is, the newly-elected San Francisco Board of Supervisors member will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Board opens up every meeting with a simple showing of American pride and patriotism. But while every other member of the 11-member Board utters the approximately 10-second long statement, and many put their hand over their heart, Kim does neither.

“I don’t believe we are a nation with liberty and justice for all — yet,” Kim told The San Francisco Examiner on Tuesday. “So a lot of my work is motivated by wanting to be a part of achieving that ideal.”

Kim calls the decision a "personal" one that she's considered since high school, and she rejects the notion that refusing to say it says anything about her patriotism.

“I think I am very loyal to the country,” she told the Examiner. “I’ve expressed my patriotism through my years of doing organizing work, being a civil-rights lawyer and being a public servant now.”

The Examiner says the Board's Pledge is required by its Rules of Order. However, the rule only says the Board president must lead the "Board and the audience," and says nothing about requiring members to join in.

Before being elected to the Board, Kim served as the president of the San Francisco Board of Eduction. Before that, she served as an attorney with the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights (whose "about" section includes progressive key words) and her bio lists a heading titled, "From Community Organizer to Elected Legislator":

Kim's fellow supervisor Scott Wiener, who sits next to Kim during the meetings, told the Examiner he has no problem with her silence.

“To me, it’s a way about reminding myself about our country and the liberties and democracy that we enjoy,” he said. “But there are many, many ways of reminding ourselves of why we love our country.”

The Pledge gained national attention during last year's election season when the League of Women Voters was overridden twice by two separate debate audiences that were told the debates would not open with the recitation. And just three days before Christmas, a Massachusetts school sent a permission slip home requiring students to secure a parent's signature in order to recite the patriotic words.

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