By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Despite vocal opposition from many, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed an executive order requiring state buildings to fly U.S. and New Jersey flags at half-staff on Friday to honor New Jersey native Whitney Houston, who died Feb. 11, Philly.com is reporting.
Original reports said the flag would be lowered on Saturday, the day of Houston's funeral, but the order calls for it to happen Friday instead.
The order calls Houston "a gifted singer, remarkable?performer, and iconic figure who left an indelible mark upon the?popular music landscape in the State of New Jersey and across our?nation" and goes on to say the singer "?left a legacy in?this state that will be cherished for many years."
Flags in the state will also fly at half-staff on Feb. 21 to honor Marine Lance Corporal Osbrany Montes De Oca, a N.J. native who died in service in Afghanistan. Much of the criticism Christie received centered on the idea that Houston was being honored in a way that should be reserved for service members.
As the controversy grew, Christie pointed out that he has ordered?flags in the state be flown at half-staff for all 31 of the New Jersey soldiers who have died during his time in office and every fallen police officer during that time.
Governors of American states are authorized by federal law to make this order at their discretion to honor state officials or residents who have died. Nothing requires that the person honored must be a politician or service member; in fact, Christie approved a similar order when Springsteen band member Clarence Clemons died last June.
In msnbc.com's poll on Wednesday asking if Houston should be honored in this way, more than 63,000 readers voted no, while more than 9,000 voted yes.
On Wednesday,?a person commenting on a story on NJ.com said that some state employees will willingly disregard the order. Under the name General Rant, the commenter wrote: "Don't worry, I work at a state building?and trust me, it'll be at the discretion of the management. If you think there'll be full compliance with the order, think again, because there won't."
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Should flags be flown at half-staff to honor Whitney Houston?