Hundreds demand rainbow flag be flown in front of town hall in Wyckoff

WYCKOFF, New Jersey (WABC) -- A pride flag is at the center of a growing controversy in a town in New Jersey.

Hundreds of residents are demanding that the rainbow flag be flown in the Bergen County town of Wyckoff.

The issue was debated Tuesday night after the mayor said no to flying the symbol of the gay rights movement.

There are three flagpoles outside the Wyckoff town hall. The council agreed on the American flag and others supporting POWs and soldiers killed in action.

Erika Kao wants the township to fly the pride flag, a symbol in support of the LGBTQ community, in front of the town hall during June, which is Pride Month.

She has two young daughters.

"I want them to live in a town where they feel loved and welcomed no matter what their sexual orientation is," said Kao.

On Tuesday night the town council heard from residents, many with strong views on the pride flag.

"It is a life preserver, it is a beacon of hope that there are people out there who accept me," said one resident. "To this day, 30 years after coming out myself, I look at it and it comforts me."

"The flag at its core represents compassion, diversity and inclusion," said another resident. "I think it speaks volumes about the values of the few community members who find that to be a divisive message."

But the council is worried that if they allow the gay pride flag to fly there, it creates what lawyers call a public forum, a place where anyone can give any message, even hate speech.

There was some discussion Tuesday night about raising the rainbow flag at another city-owned property.

But most of the people at the meeting wanted it raised at town hall where people can see it. No decision was made.

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