Fitchburg

Fitchburg Mayor Under Fire After Ceremony to Raise ‘Nuclear Family' Flag Over Park

Many in Fitchburg were not happy that a "nuclear flag" was flying over Riverside Park in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, or that Mayor Stephen DiNatale took part in a ceremony for it

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A flag flying over a park in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and the mayor's participation in a ceremony, have drawn strong criticism.

Not long after a "nuclear family" flag went up last week in Riverfront Park, the comments started pouring in.

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Many in the community were not happy that the flag was flying over Fitchburg. Mayor Stephen DiNatale drew criticism for showing up at the ceremony and posting on Facebook, "the Nuclear Family Flag will be flying for one week in the name of equality."

"It just represents heterosexual couples," said Jessica Jacobson. "Nuclear families."

Jacobson, who led the group that petitioned for the flag, says she was seeking equality after the LGBTQ pride flag went up in the same spot earlier this year.

"It's not that we don't like the Pride flag," she said. "It just doesn't represent us, and it doesn't represent everybody."

Several city council members have blasted the mayor for supporting the nuclear family flag.

"I never would have thought the mayor would be down here physically holding this straight pride flag and raising it and then to share it on Facebook," Councilor Sam Squailia said.

DiNatale says he tries to be consistent with flag requests on public property.

"I regret that some of the members of the community felt that this event was unacceptable," he wrote on Facebook. "I did not understand the offensiveness of flying this flag to some members of our community."

"The true majority of Fitchburg is inclusionary," said Squailia. "We support all persons, doesn't matter who they love."

MassEquality, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, says nuclear families don't need to be highlighted because they already have the advantage in society.

"Please just try to have a little bit of compassion and sensitivity instead of trying to further marginalize people who are already fighting an uphill battle," said Tonya Neslusan of MassEquality.

The flag is scheduled to come down Wednesday morning.

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