Councilman DeFusco Releases Statement on Bhalla Administration’s Exclusionary Actions regarding LGBTQ Flag Raising Ceremony
Hoboken, NJ – First Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco is releasing the following statement regarding the Bhalla Administration’s decision not to extend an invitation to speak at the city’s LGBTQ Flag Raising ceremony, as well as the city’s response to questions from residents about the decision. Councilman DeFusco is the first openly gay elected official in Hoboken.
“Inclusivity can’t just be a buzzword or an easy way to grab a headline, it needs to be a value that our city and all of our elected officials live by. Growing up as a kid, I know all too well what it feels like to be excluded and to feel like I don’t have a voice. That’s precisely why Mayor Bhalla’s refusal to invite me to speak at the raising of the rainbow flag brings back some painful memories, especially when coupled with the long history of discrimination the entire gay community has faced. We can’t tell LGBTQ youth that it gets better if politicians still insist on keeping us quiet. Much like the mayor’s prideful connection with the Sikh community, I proudly stand with the LGBTQ community and together as elected officials we are both products of Hoboken’s inclusive spirit. Sadly, his petty decision shows a glaring disregard for including anyone who is not on the same side politically even though we are members of the same party. The same thing happened when Councilwoman Vanessa Falco, Hoboken’s first African American council member, was not invited to speak during Black History Month and when Council members are routinely shut out of major decisions. A Mayor like Ravi Bhalla who considers himself a progressive leader should not have to be told to be inclusive and work to bring people together, it should be a natural instinct. That unfortunately has not been the case thus far in the first six months of his tenure.”
The response by Mayor Ravi Bhalla's Office last week and its reason for excluding Councilman Mike DeFusco is below.