Boonton Council passes new ordinance restricting display of the rainbow Pride flag

Rainbow Flag on a flag pole with a clear blue sky in the back ground
Rainbow Flag

The town council of Boonton has sparked controversy with its recent passage of a new ordinance governing the display of flags on town property, including the rainbow Pride flag symbolizing LGBTQ solidarity.

In a 6-3 vote on April 15, the council approved the ordinance, which significantly restricts the types of flags permitted to fly over municipal property. Under the new rules, only the American flag, state and county flags, and military flags or Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flags are allowed.

The move comes after the previous ordinance, passed in December, allowed for the flying of flags associated with proclamations made by the U.S. president. This provision potentially opened the door for groups to apply to fly Pride flags over town property during Pride Month, declared by President Joe Biden as a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community each June.

Councilman Ben Weisman, one of the dissenting votes, expressed disappointment over the decision, arguing that the previous ordinance included safeguards against hate speech and provided a review process for flag applications. Opposition to the new ordinance also came from Boonton Rainbow Pride, a local LGBTQ advocacy group, whose co-founders, Linda Hogoboom and Lindsey Weisman, lamented the council’s decision. They emphasized that the town is not divided and highlighted the support for the LGBTQ community within Boonton.

Hogoboom revealed that Boonton Rainbow Pride had sought permission for years to raise a Pride flag at town hall during Pride Month, only to face repeated denials. Last year, the group was granted permission to raise the flag in June at a municipal park after persistent requests. Despite submitting a new application in compliance with the revised rules in December, the group received no further communication from the town regarding their request to raise the Pride flag.

The passage of the new ordinance has reignited debate over the rights of marginalized communities and the role of local government in promoting inclusivity and equality. As Boonton grapples with the fallout from this decision, the LGBTQ community and its allies said they will continue to advocate for their rights and visibility in the face of adversity.