Days After Rest of Country, Christie Finally Orders Flags Lowered To Honor the Dead in Orlando

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Personnel leave after lowering the US flag to half-staff at the the White House in Washington following President Obama's statement on the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub.

Following President Obama's order Sunday to lower flags on federal property to honor the victims of the Orlando massacre, governors in almost every state followed suit, mandating that flags in be similarly placed at half-staff.

But not in New Jersey. Gov. Chris Christie did not issue an order to lower flags until Thursday morning, 18 hours after being asked about it by WNYC.

Repeated emails to Christie's spokesmen about the delay in the order -- and whether WNYC's questions prompted the reversal -- went unanswered. 

This is not Christie's first flag controversy. 

In 2012, the governor ordered flags lowered to mark the death of superstar musician Whitney Houston, who hailed from New Jersey. That prompted the father of a slain serviceman in Michigan to burn the New Jersey flag in protest. But Christie delivered a passionate defense of his decision, telling CNN at the time that even though Houston struggled with drug addiction that shouldn't "diminish" her contributions to New Jersey. Afterward, when Christie attended Houston's funeral, he received a standing ovation.

Yet a few weeks later it was revealed that Christie had quietly rejected a bill, passed unanimously in the Legislature with bipartisan support, to require New Jersey military deaths be reported to local leaders so flags could be lowered. Christie let the measure die without acting on it. He said at the time that he wasn't aware of the bill. 

Most of Christie's executive orders lowering flags have honored slain service members and police officers. But he has also ordered flags lowered for the deaths of saxophonist Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band, his favorite group, and the baseball coach at Morristown High School.

Christie's executive order on the Orlando massacre calls for flags to be lowered on Friday. It reads: "This shocking and horrific attack constitutes the deadliest act of terrorism carried out in the United States since September 11, 2001. It was purposely directed against members of the LGBT community, and represents a deliberate and callous assault on the freedoms we cherish as Americans."