The Oak Bluffs select board adopted a new policy Tuesday that allows the municipality to fly non-federally recognized ceremonial flags on town property.

The new policy, which was approved unanimously by the board, states the town can fly ceremonial flags at the town’s discretion. Flags can include those that recognize holidays or events, such as the Progress Pride flag or the Juneteenth Flag.

The policy decision came after more than a year of debate between the select board, the Martha’s Vineyard chapter of the NAACP and other Island groups about the symbolism of flags and the difference between public and government speech.

Flags can be flown for one to 14 days, as decided by the board on a case-by-case basis. If a member of the public would like to propose a certain flag, they must come before the board at least four weeks before the flag would be displayed.

Town attorney Michael Goldsmith joined the board’s meeting and walked the board through the wording of the policy. He explained that the best way to avoid future contention is to emphasize that ceremonial flags will be an expression of the town government – not the public.

The board’s right to raise some flags and not others is protected under the government speech doctrine, which allows the government to speak for itself without encroaching on the public’s First Amendment rights.

Board member Jason Balboni was still concerned that the policy would create strife in the community.

“It just seems like it’s such a gray area,” he said. “I hate gray areas. They’re just an opportunity to get in trouble.”

Mr. Goldsmith stated that if the board strictly follows its policy and moves forward with clear intentions, the town should be able to fly flags as it sees fit.

“If you follow what we talked about today with the government speech, and you make a decision and embrace it and own it, then yes, this [policy] works,” he said.

The board has yet to decide if the town will install a new flagpole or use an existing flagpole to fly ceremonial flags.

The new policy was celebrated by several meeting attendees representing the NAACP.

“I want to thank you for finally having the birth of that baby — the flag policy. It was way overdue,” said Toni Kaufman, president of the Vineyard NAACP. “We appreciate all of your thoughts and the time you spent reviewing the drafts.”

However, some people were concerned that the policy may not be adopted quickly enough to allow the raising of a Progress Pride flag for the Martha’s Vineyard Pride Parade on June 10.

The flag was flown at last year’s parade as a temporary exception to the town’s previous flag policy, which stated that only the American flag, Massachusetts state flag, Oak Bluffs flag, POW-MIA flag and military flags could be flown.

During the meeting, the board also appointed Maeve Rice as the new assistant harbormaster.

“She has the experience of navigating multiple vessels in our local waters, as well as the worldly experience of sailing to the Virgin Islands and stopping in marinas along the way,” said harbormaster Emily deBettencourt. “She has a captain’s license, she has the experience, I trust her judgment.”

The board additionally appointed Mike Reed as the newest member of the climate and energy advisory committee. He was recommended by committee chair Bill Cleary and will serve for three years.