Middlesex County News

1st LGBTQ Pride Flag-Raising at Middlesex County Courthouse

Community members gather with their elected representatives to celebrate Pride Month. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson (D-12) speaks about the importance of inclusion and community. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
Guests and officials get ready for the flag-raising at the Middlesex County Courthouse. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
The rainbow flag brightens a dreary morning in New Brunswick. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
Green, Spadoro, Watson Coleman, Armwood, Danielson are uplifted by flag-raising. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
How Gay Pride Month gets celebrated in New Jersey. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
South River candidate Ruell Calvin Brown and LGBTQ Caucus Vice-Chair Rich Green proudly celebrate inclusion. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - As an LGBTQ rainbow flag rose up the flagpole at the Middlesex County Courthouse late last week, attendees remembered the 49 men and women murdered in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida last year during a terrifying and bloody mass shooting that targeted members of that community.

According to published reports, Omar Mateen entered the LGBTQ nightclub on June 12, 2016 and opened fire, perpetrating the deadliest mass shooting in American History.

But the terrorist, who wounded 53 others, was not remembered during this week's event.

Sign Up for E-News

The fear he hoped to create was replaced, instead, by support and a sense of unity here in Central New Jersey and downtown New Brunswick.

Local officials, including U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12, and about three dozen county residents attended the flag-raising event.

"This is the first time we have a (LGBTQ) flag-raising in Middlesex county - one of the most diverse in the country - and we hope to see it continue from now on," Michael Spadoro, chairperson of the Middlesex Democratic Organization's LGBT Caucus, said. "Events like these bring us one step closer to equality. It's great to know that our representatives have our back here in Middlesex County."

He then provided a brief history of Pride Month, which was celebrated for the 26th time in Asbury Park two weeks ago.

According to the Library of Congress, Pride Month started in 1994 to remember the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, which were the "tipping point" of the LGBTQ movement.

It highlights the contributions of this community to our history.

Spadoro was then joined by Ruell Calvin Brown, a Democratic candidate for South River Town Council, in a recitation of the names of those killed in Orlando, to whom the event was dedicated.

Watson Coleman spoke to those assembled, describing her visit to the Pulse nightclub during the presidential campaign season last fall.

She noted that she was "inspired" by the messages of hope, love, and unity expressed by the visitors to the site.  

Watson Coleman then went on to link the shooting with the recent gun assaults at the UPS facility near San Francisco and the attacks on Republican congressmen while they practiced for a charity baseball game on a field in Alexandria, Virginia.

"We have guns in the hands of the wrong people," she said. "The type of guns used in these attacks should not be available. We need common sense gun laws."

She said the attack in Orlando was carried out by a single shooter using a Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber rifle and a Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which were purchased legally. The attack on the congressmen during a baseball practice last week involved a single shooter with an SKS 7.62-millimeter caliber rifle, also purchased legally.

"We are pausing for America," Watson Coleman said. "We should celebrate diversity. We should take these moments to acknowledge the contributions of a diverse community. We are at our best when we bring our talents together." 

In a reference to some current concerns of the LGBTQ community, Watson Coleman continued, "We must remember that we are a country of laws. We are working to ensure civil rights in public accommodations. We don't take inclusion lightly. Government has a distinct role in in protecting us and lifting us up. We want to lift hope, commitment, and solidarity for all people."

The vice-chair of the MCDO LGBTQ Caucus, Richard Green III, took the podium next.

"As a life-long resident of Middlesex County and a gay man, today means a lot to me," he said. "Yet, it reminds me that the hard work continues."

Green quoted the slain gay activist Harvey Milk, a San Francisco Councilman who was assassinated in 1978, saying, "We must show persistence, resistance, and commitment. Hope will never be silent."

Spadoro then invited everyone to exit the building to raise the flag in front of the courthouse.

"Let's go out and make some history," he said.

Freeholders Charles Kenny and Kenneth Armwood raised the rainbow banner, joined by Watson Coleman and State Assemblyman Joseph Danielson, D-17.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - March 19, 2018


TRENTON - New Jersey, one of the only employers who pays its workers for unused sick time, and then appears mystified when it struggles to balance its budget, may finally be capping sick-leave payouts.  The proposal, obviously unpopular with labor unions, has been discussed before, but not with traction. It is back in the mix again, to cap payouts ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 16, 2018


ON THE RAILS - Another commuting mess this morning, as the antiquated Portal Bridge got stuck in the "up" position at 4:22 a.m.  That caused a bunch of rush hour trains to be cancelled between Newark and Manhattan for four hours or so.  Both NJTransit and Amtrak riders were completely screwed. You may recall the proposed Gateway ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 15, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - When you rent out apartments to Rutgers students, expect some surprises. But one landlord received a shocker beyond expectation: a $8,117.07 water bill for the last three months of 2017, TAPInto New Brunswick reports. The landlord went to the City Council meeting this week, pleading that the bill on his Comstock Street ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 14, 2018


TRENTON - Ever since we met Gov. Phil Murphy, he has been talking about the same stuff: higher taxes for the rich, saving NJ Transit, legalizing marijuana, giving more money to public schools and a higher minimum wage. So, when lawmakers went to Trenton yesterday to hear the rookie governor's first budget message, there weren't a lot of ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 13, 2018


TRENTON - As Gov. Phil Murphy prepares to deliver his first budget address at 2 p.m. today, at the State House, observers will be curious if his proposals jive with the state's pension mess. Look for the governor to talk about campaign topics like equal pay, health care, climate change, immigration and offshore drilling, as well as the proposed ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 12, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - If you want to succeed in New Jersey, you need to figure out, to some degree, what all these millennials are thinking.  New Jersey Future tried to get to the answer, during a recent day-long event in New Brunswick that NJ Spotlight covered.  Bottom line? Our millennials are fleeing and that is bad. We need them to buy ...

Rutgers Student on Front Lines of Orangutan Conservation, Research

March 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - Deep in a tropical forest in Borneo 15 years ago, Rutgers student Didik Prasetyo first encountered a young male orangutan that he named “Jerry.”

The great ape was one of several orangutans that Prasetyo and other researchers followed at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station in the Mawas Conservation Area in Indonesia. Prasetyo was skeptical when colleagues said ...

RU police investigate assault on Douglass campus

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University police are investigating an aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault  reported to March 14 at 3:55 a.m. in front of Hickman Hall on the Douglass campus.


The victim, not affiliated with Rutgers University, reported that she was walking with a male whom she did not know in the area of Commercial Avenue and George ...

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

Technology ‘Hub’ proposed for Hub City’s downtown, covering 12 acres

March 19, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK – State and city officials on Monday unveiled plans for a “hub” for research in the fields of technology and health care services to stretch over 12 acres.

Gov. Phil Murphy, speaking at a meeting at Rutgers University, said the "Innovation and Technology Hub,” which is in the planning stages, would include construction of 2 million to 4 million ...


This National Literacy Month, Let's Rein In Screen Time

March 13, 2018

Dear Editor: As speech-language pathologists across New Jersey prepare to mark “National March into Literacy Month,” let’s address the alarming number of young children who spend countless hours a day on a handheld screen.

According to a study from the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, the more time that children under two years spend on smartphones, tablets and ...

New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters Clinches Gold Certification

March 16, 2018

NEWARK - The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) is proud to announce that the New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters has once again received Gold Certification – awarded to the strongest chapters in the nation.

NJAHU achieved Gold Certification from national headquarters underscoring how well the organization has operated and achieved its lofty goals in the ...