Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Clifton Oks Flying Rainbow Flag for Pride Parade

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Clifton Oks Flying Rainbow Flag for Pride Parade

Article excerpt

CLIFTON -- After a heated debate, the City Council voted on Wednesday night to fly the rainbow-striped pride flag outside City Hall later this month, joining some of the state's largest cities in holding public celebrations of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

A resident's request for the gay pride event was narrowly approved after a 20-minute debate in which some council members argued that it be treated differently than other such events held in the city, which typically have been to raise national flags.

Councilman Ray Grabowski said the council was being asked to "change the scope" of flag-raisings for cultural and other groups. He suggested such events instead be called "celebrations" and held in other spaces besides the city flagpole -- perhaps without flags.

Councilmen Bill Gibson and Steve Hatala also expressed reservations about welcoming any group's events, citing fears that such organizations as the Ku Klux Klan would seek to raise their flags on city property and that turning them away could result in lawsuits.

"We're starting to go into a different path," Gibson said. "We're starting to go into organizations now, which I think is the wrong path to go to."

But council members Peter Eagler, Joe Kolodziej and Lauren Murphy rebuffed their proposal to delay the gay pride event until a new committee sets standards for non-national flag-raisings. And Mayor James Anzaldi cast the deciding vote -- which ended in a 4-3 split.

"I've thought a lot about it," Anzaldi said. "I don't think raising a flag like this is going to hurt anybody, so I'll allow it."

Elana Stabile of Rutherford Boulevard requested the flag-raising with the advocacy group Garden State Equality last month, imploring the council to recognize "our struggle for basic civil rights, equality and finally, the long overdue Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. …

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