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National Park Service Withdraws From Ceremony Dedicating NYC's First Permanent Pride Flag

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The National Park Service suddenly withdrew sponsorship of New York City's first permanent Pride Flag, which now flies high near the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.

The flag was dedicated at the Stonewall National Monument on Christopher Street during a ceremony Wednesday, which marks National Coming Out Day and the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Gay Rights.

"It is a sign, a symbol, of our love, of our solidarity, of community and of our ongoing struggle," activist Leslie Cagan said.

Organizers had been working with local representatives from the National Park Service to raise the flag beneath The Stars and Stripes at the monument, but the agency abruptly backed out Friday.

"Last week when somebody higher up than our colleagues at the National Park Service found out this was happening they went ballistic," organizer Ken Kidd said.

The monument is the federal government's only such homage to LGBT rights, but the flagpole is no longer part of it.

Joshua Laird, the National Parks Commissioner for New York, confirmed the federal government transferred control of the pole to the city after the Pride flag went up.

"It was never our flagpole," Laird said, despite the fact that until this weekend the Park Service had been willingly maintaining it and flying its own flag there.

The National Park Service flag has been replaced with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation flag.

"So there would be no question about it hanging properly and legitimately on the pole," Laird said.

City Parks spokesman Sam Biederman read a statement saying, "Today on National Coming Out Day the city is very proud to step in to carry the banner for LGBTQI rights following this weekend's transfer of the flag to city jurisdiction."

The city will now have jurisdiction over the flag pole and the flags.

Meanwhile on Long Island, the head of the LGBT Network spoke before the Suffolk County Legislature about National Coming Out Day.

Dr. David Kilmnick told WCBS 880's Sophia Hall there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

"Bullying is on the rise. Discrimination against LGBT folks is on the rise," he said. "Today, a massive effort of over a quarter million people across Long Island and across the five boroughs are saying it's not OK to bully or to discriminate against LGBT people."

Kilmnick said the country needs to reach a point where everyone accepts one another.

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