NUTLEY, NJ - Commissioners Alphonse Petracco and Steven L. Rogers were again questioned about the LGBTQ+ Pride Month Proclamation during public comment portion of the Tuesday, Aug. 6, Nutley Board of Commissioners meeting.
Rhonda Frobose of Nutley told Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli that she would like to contact him in September to start planning next June’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month in the township. She would like to see the students of the Prism Club at Nutley High School get involved with it.
Frobose said she also wanted to “close the loop” on the 2019 LGBTQ+ Pride Month’s proclamation asking commissioners Petracco and Rogers if they have signed the official documentation yet. Mayor Scarpelli and Commissioners Mauro G. Tucci and Revenue and Thomas J. Evans all signed it on June 18. See story at Nutley Proclaims June as Pride Month.
Frobose asked where the official copy was held. Township Attorney Alan Genitempo said it is missing and could be on a commissioner’s desk. Frobose asked the two commissioners if they would sign it once it was located. Petracco said he signed her copy at the last meeting.
At the July 16 meeting, Frobose presented an unofficial copy of the proclamation that she had enlarged at a FedEx shop, which Petracco signed. Evans clarified that Petracco signed a copy and he needs to sign the official document to address the matter. See story at Two Nutley Commissioners Questioned on LGBTQ+ Pride Month Proclamation.
Frobose asked Rogers to state on record why he wouldn’t sign it. Rogers said, “I will not sign it and I will take you back to the 1990s when the director of the New Jersey Department of Criminal Justice came to the Nutley Police Department […] and he asked if I would be put on the Bias Crime Task Force. […] One of the jobs we had was to shape laws in the State of New Jersey that were inclusive of everyone.
Rogers said he was very concerned at that time because the one thing he didn’t want to do was framework a document, which he called “identity politics.” “Identity politics is scoping out people based on gender, color, creed and it’s very, very divisive. I see that happening now across the country,” he said.
“My position was this, as it is now, one flag, that flag right there it’s colorblind and its gender blind. It’s the flag of the United States of America,” he said. “The document, there is no need in my view that we need to have proclamations and resolutions that clearly define identity politics because we have a document it’s called the Constitution of the United States of America and it’s for all Americans […] nowhere in the Constitution do I see identity politics,” he said.
Rogers went on and said we should have American pride, which includes everyone. “I can’t tell you whose gay, who’s lesbian, I don’t care, it’s none of my business. But what I do care about is if someone loves our country. In the military, […] we had gay people, we had lesbian people, do you think we asked them those questions,” he said.
Rogers suggested to enhance civic and civil rights education and constitutional law in the high schools and middle schools would solve the problems.
“I commend you to have the ability to come up and state your case. I respect that,” said Rogers.
Frobose thanked him for his comment.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20.
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