Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla, Hudson Pride Center, elected officials and residents yesterday kicked off Pride Month with a Pride Flag raising outside of City Hall. Pride crosswalks were also unveiled after the flag raising ceremony, which were painted by volunteers with the colors of the Pride Flag.
Following the flag raising, Mayor Bhalla officiated the renewal of vows on the steps of City Hall of Hoboken residents Migdalia Pagan-Milano and Lisa Milano, who celebrated 10 years of marriage this year. Migdalia and Lisa met in Hoboken in 2009 and married in Belgium in 2011, as marriage between same-sex couples was not legal in New Jersey at the time.
“Hoboken is, and will always continue to be a City that accepts, loves and celebrates our LGBTQ+ community,” said Mayor Bhalla. “Thank you to the many volunteers who helped us repaint our Pride crosswalks, which sends a clear signal that that Hoboken is a safe space for all of our residents. I also send my congratulations to Migdalia Pagan-Milano and Lisa Milano on their renewal of wedding vows!”
“In 2021 our current state of affairs, as it pertains to gay rights, racial inequality, gender equity and many other human rights, systemic structures in our society is in need of development and great change,” said Laura Knittel, Hoboken’s LGBTQ+ liaison. “I ask all of you to consider how you or someone you know, can seize this moment in history to make an impact. All of these rights intersect and are deeply connected. It is quite possible, that if we grab hold now, that we can unravel and have new understanding around these differences and work together to build stronger communities with much less hate, violence and disparities. Hoboken has been and continues to be positioned and in action within this movement. To all those of the LGTBQ community, along with our friends, family and alliances thank you. We see you, we love you and we are here for you. Happy Gay Pride here and around the world and we even have to include all those who are now serving in out of space, and no matter how far away they are we see them too!”
“Pride for us, and Pride Month is a combination of celebration, protest, support, and awareness,” said Elizabeth Schedl, Executive Director of Hudson Pride Center. “We are celebrating our lives, our identities, and our community. But it is also a time for us to educate and bring awareness to issues the Queer community still faces, especially to those most discriminated against, like LGBTQ+ people of color and transgender and non-binary folks. Equality, visibility, acceptance, and legal rights and protections for all LGBTQ+ people are at the heart of any Pride Celebration. For Hudson Pride---we are dedicated to our community 365 days a year. We are here and we want to help!”
In December, for the third year in a row, the City of Hoboken received a perfect 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Municipal Equality Index (MEI), an annual examination of policies relating to LGBTQ+ laws and cities in over 500 municipalities across the United States. Hoboken is one of three municipalities in New Jersey, and one of 94 cities across the country to earn a 100% rating from HRC.
Hoboken earned top scores from HRC for the City’s law enforcement policies which include reporting hate crime statistics to the FBI, the administration’s leadership on LGBTQ+ equality, non-discrimination protections covering employment, fair treatment of LGBTQ+ employees, and City healthcare benefits that are transgender-inclusive.