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HomeDoverDover Passes Ordinance Regarding Flag Raisings at Town Hall

Dover Passes Ordinance Regarding Flag Raisings at Town Hall

Dover’s Flag Resolution Causes Rift, LGBTQ+ Leaders Resign in Protest

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DOVER — The Mayor and Council passed Resolution No. 158-2024 on Tuesday, May 28. The resolution states, “Permitting Commemorative Flags to be Raised as an Expression of Government Speech.” It passed by majority vote, with Ruiz and Wittner voting no and Rodriguez absent.

The following flags are hereby permitted to be displayed upon flagpoles at Town Hall as an expression of government speech:
•Flag of the United States
•Flag of the State of New Jersey
•Flag of the County of Morris
•Flag of the Town of Dover
•P.O.W./M.I.A. (Prisoner of War/Missing in Action) flag as provided in Title 36, Chapter 9, section 902 of the United States Code (36 U.S.C. section 902) Killed in Action Flag (required by P.L. 2017, Chapter 188)

Many represetatives of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning, (LGBTQ+) community were present during the meeting expressing their disappointment in the Resolution.

Maria Chacon said, “This resolution mirrors a similar one recently enacted in Boonton, which restricts the flags that can be flown on municipal property. This action is a direct insult to our LGBTQ community, making us feel discriminated against and marginalized.”

“I stand before you asking you to open your hearts and minds and understand the significance of Pride celebrations and flag raisings. Let me be clear, LGBTQ+ folks are an increasing electorate within Dover. Let me be clear, we are prepared to use our voting power and influence to ensure we are represented by this Mayor and Council. Let me be clear, we expect our Democrat Mayor and Council to act in accordance with democratic values and not the far right agenda. So let us work together and lead by example. Vote NO or amend Resolution 157-2024, and send a strong message to the large population of LGBTQ plus folks that live in Dover that we are safe here,” voiced Daniela Mendez. Mendez is the first trans woman elected in the state of New Jersey.

T.C. McCourt said, “We are facing resolution 157, which restricts the flags that can be flown above town hall. Let me be clear: resolution 157 is a slap in the face to the LGBTQ+ community in this town, who rightfully demand visibility and recognition. Flying the pride flag above our seat of power, not hidden away in a park, is a symbol of acceptance, inclusion, and progress, and yet this Mayor is actively seeking to take that away from us. To the Council, I say I do not endorse his actions; I urge the council to reject resolution 157 for its blatant targeting of the LGBTQ+ community and to amend resolution 158 to allow for the flying of the pride flag above town hall where it belongs you.”

Mayor Dodd responded, “I’ve had different organizations come to me. Club Columbia came to me and asked me to fly their flag at Town Hall. Club Columbia came to me, and they said, Mayor, we want the Columbian flag on Town Hall. My answer to them was simple: unfortunately, we can’t fly the Colombian flag because if we do, we have to fly every other flag in Dover. This is a government municipal building, and I don’t appreciate the fact that you’re coming here tonight and you’re saying that we’re banning the pride flag; what we’re asking for is a compromise. And amazingly, everyone’s coming here, and you’re asking us to understand your beliefs, but when we disagree with you, you’ll automatically become haters to us. What about our beliefs? What about the belief that the only flag that should fly over a municipal building is the American flag?”

He continued, “I think it’s unfortunate that it’s come to this point. We’re not opposed to the LGBTQ+ community in Dover. All we’re saying is that we were asking to understand, please, the only flag to fly over a municipal building should be an American flag or a POW flag, the same as it is on every federal building. We thought this was a good compromise, that an additional flagpole in the town could support all organizations.”

The mayor and Council recognized the importance and significance of Pride Month by flying the Pride flag at JFK Memorial Commons Park on E. McFarlan Street.

“I just have to express the fact that this is not an anti-LGBTQ+ statement. This is a statement that’s saying the only flag that should fly over our municipal building is the American flag or the POW flag. And I think it is a compromise when you look at the whole thing. It might not be acceptable to you because you want it flying over the town hall, but if it flies over the town hall, then the Colombian flag, the Mexican flag, and we have to grant permission for every other flag. We can’t pick and choose.”

Ordinance 158-2024 was unanimously passed by “The Mayor and Council of the Town of Dover in Support of LGBTQ+ Pride Month.”

That ordinance welcomes and encourages diversity and inclusion within our community. June 28, 2024, marks the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City, which sparked the gay rights movement. Nationwide, June is the month to recognize the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and (LGBTQ+) community. Celebrating Pride Month raises awareness, provides support and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, and offers an opportunity to become educated, engage in dialogue, strengthen alliances, and build understanding. We must commit to supporting and accepting LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly our youth, who are far more likely than their peers to experience violence and bullying at school, suffer from depression, struggle with substance use, and attempt suicide.

Mayor and Council recognize the importance and significance of Pride Month by flying the Pride flag at JFK Memorial Commons Park on E. McFarlan Street.

During the final public comment section, Danielle Mendez resigned from Dover’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee.

“As I mentioned, I am the first openly trans woman elected in the State of New Jersey. I am the president of the Dover Board of Education. I am on the Board of Directors of the Mental Health Association. I am a founding cabinet member of eMERGE New Jersey. I oversee development for a large nonprofit in Morris County. My talents, skills, and expertise are in demand. Mayor, I don’t know where you when I went wrong, I supported you. I believed in you, even at the detriment to some of my friendships, my friends were angry, but I believed in you, and somewhere along the line, our communication just fell apart. I know that we had a disagreement about something. Ever since then, we have not communicated at all. I’ve reached out to you as the President of the Board of Education, trying to meet like we agreed on a monthly basis. That hasn’t happened. Say all that to say that I cannot lend my name or give my time to something that someone called a farce. Effective immediately, I am giving you my resignation from the LGBTQ Plus Advisory Committee,” said Mendez.

“First, you know, December seems like a lifetime ago; you and I were on the same page on many things. You appointed me to the zoning board. You advised me that you were going to create this advisory committee because you because you wanted to work with the community. You wanted to hear from the community. You wanted to to make them feel like they are important. And then we come to tonight, you can sit there and say all you want that resolution 157 was not an attempt to ban flying the pride flag above town hall. But that is exactly what it looks like, because that’s exactly what it is. Timing is important. And so I join Danielle Mendez in submitting my resignation from the LGBTQ Advisory Committee, effective immediaely,” said T.C. McCort.

Maria Chacon then spoke “I am here saddened by the decisions that people that I thought were people that I appreciated. Mayor Dodd my kids sat with you, and this is like a sham. I wasted my time, my energy and my emotions putting forward a proposal that it went nowhere. So while you came back as the greatest comeback kid fighting all these people, you took that down a matter of months, you’re back to where people dislike you, people mistrust you. I don’t know what else to say, but I cannot serve on that committee. I am resigning. It is a farce. I am resignating from the LGBTQ Advisory Committee, effective immediately.

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Frank Cahill
Frank Cahillhttps://www.frankcahill.com
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town, and Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board. Owner of the Morris now app serving small business in Morris County.
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