HACKENSACK, N.J.– More than 100 attendees erupted in applause Tuesday night as a LGBTQ pride flag was raised outside the Bergen County administration building in Hackensack.
County Executive James Tedesco and state Assemblyman Timothy Eustace stood side by side, joined by other elected and appointed officials, police officers, members of the LGBTQ community and others.
"Building walls in this country is not what this country is about. Preventing people from coming to this country is not what this country is about," Tedesco said. "In Bergen County, we work to knock down walls and we look to ask people to come.
"Bergen County is a place to welcome all -- and a place that you can love all regardless of who you are."
Rev. Mark Collins of Glen Rock's All Saints Episcopal Church, which held a vigil for the Orlando shooting victims , provided the invocation.
"Give us courage to defend our LGBT citizens and all those who face bigotry and violence so that never again will we grieve for our brothers and sisters whose lives have been extinguished by the raging flames of hate," he said. "Help us become a place where neighbors of every tribe and race and religion and sexual orientation and gender expression live in peace."
Guest speakers included Debra Guston, chairwoman of Bergen County's LGBTQ Advisory Committee; Eustace, the state's first openly gay legislator; Charles Russo, brother of gay rights advocate Vito Russo; Garden State Equality Board Member Denise Brunner; and Jane Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation.
"When it comes to important social issues you should always be on the right side of history," Russo remarked. "If you always remember that every person is entitled to the same rights respect and dignity of everyone you will be on the right side of history."
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