MONROE, CT — A crowd of over 40 people erupted into cheers when Nick Kapoor and First Selectman Ken Kellogg raised the rainbow flag up the pole in front of Town Hall Friday morning.
“This flag raising today is another small step in the long journey that is achieving equality and universal civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community,” Kapoor said. “Symbols have meaning and this flag being raised shows that our local government cares. It is awareness and education that can change hearts and minds and local events like this move that conversation forward.”
Kapoor, who serves on the Board of Education, recalled being scared when he first ran for public office, being that he is, in his words, “brown” and “not straight.” But he told the crowd you cannot let fear control you. He went on to win in his second attempt.
Kapoor thanked Kellogg for granting his request for a flag raising ceremony to celebrate Pride Month.
The first selectman read a proclamation, proclaiming June 26, 2020 as Pride Day in the town of Monroe, and urging citizens to “recognize the contributions made by members of the LGBTQ+ community and to actively promote the principals of equality and liberty.”
A number of public officials from both sides of the aisle attended the ceremony to show their support.
Kapoor said more people had wanted to be there, but the event was not heavily advertised to promote social distancing.
Strides since Stonewall
Kapoor spoke of how the Stonewall Riots sparked the gay rights movement. It began on June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, and its patrons and employees fought back.
“That singular event changed everything for the LGBTQ+ community,” Kapoor said. “We celebrate in June for all the strides we have made since Stonewall, but there is still so much more to be done.”
He chose June 26 for the flag ceremony because of the significance of the date in LGBTQ+ legal history.
“It was on this day in 2003 that Lawrence v. Texas was handed down from the Supreme Court,” Kapoor said of the 6-3 opinion that the Texas statute making it a crime for two people of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violates the Due Process Clause.
Then 10 years later, in 2013, US v. Windsor overruled the Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage across the entire country two years later, also on June 26, according to Kapoor.
“It was just 11 days ago that the Supreme Court said you couldn’t be fired for being LGBTQ+ in America,” he said. “Just 11 days ago.”
However, Kapoor noted the decision did not provide protections for LGBTQ+ children in school systems, nor protections for LGBTQ+ people to rent apartments or buy houses.
“In some states in this country, just because you are LGBTQ+, landlords can refuse to rent to you,” he said. “You know what else wasn’t in that decision 11 days ago? Protections for LGBTQ+ citizens in public accommodations. There is still so, so, so much more work to be done.”
“Thankfully, we live in Connecticut and there are state laws on the books that protect people in this state for all the things I just listed, whether it is due to their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Kapoor added. “Connecticut has been a leader on civil rights legislation for the LGBTQ+ community.”
An important day
Town Councilman Jason Maur was among the residents attending Friday morning’s ceremony.
“It’s for Nick. It’s for our community. It’s for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as Monroe as a whole,” he said. “We need to celebrate everything that makes us unique and everything that makes us who we are — let everyone know they are welcome here and we are happy to have you.”
Megan Clark brought two of her children, ages 14 and 16, to the event.
“I think it’s most important for my children, for my family, my neighbors and my friends who are all part of the LGBTQ+ community to support each other, ” she said. “I’m just really happy that Monroe put this flag up today.”
Katherine Briggs, who is the Democratic registrar of voters in town, also watched the flag raising. “I think it’s important to be here today,” she said. “I’m proud of the town for flying the flag.”