From City News Service
Nearly 10 years after legal wrangling prompted Los Angeles County to remove a cross from its official seal, the Board of Supervisors approved a change to the seal, adding a cross to the depiction of the San Gabriel Mission.
The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to restore the cross to the
top of the San Gabriel Mission on the county seal. A spokesman for the American
Civil Liberties Union warned the board that such a move would violate the
constitutional separation of church and state and expose the county to legal
liability. Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Gloria Molina cast the dissenting
When the county seal was redesigned in 2004 -- removing a cross and other images under the threat of legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California -- it included a depiction of the mission, which at the time did not have a cross because it was being retrofitted after the Whittier Narrows earthquake.
The cross, however, was reattached to the mission in 2009, making the county seal's depiction of the mission "artistically and architecturally inaccurate," according to a motion introduced by Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe.
Tony Bell, spokesman for Antonovich, told City News Service the supervisor's motion is solely aimed at ensuring the county seal gives an accurate portrayal of the mission, and is "a completely different situation" from the 2004 legal threats from the ACLU.
Bell said it is "strictly an architectural fact that there is a cross on the San Gabriel Mission," adding that the county's seal "is not accurate."
"What the motion would do is fix the currently inaccurate picture of the mission," he said.
After the county redesigned its seal in 2004 to remove the depiction of a cross, a county employee named Ernesto Vasquez filed a lawsuit, claiming the action was hostile to Christianity.
A federal judge rejected the suit, and a federal appeals court panel upheld the dismissal. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case.