The governor of New Jersey has defended his decision to lower flags to half-mast on Saturday to mark state native Whitney Houston's funeral, following a backlash from residents.
Governor Chris Christie ordered flags on state government buildings to be lowered when the singing legend is laid to rest at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, where she sang as a child.
Several residents have gone online to complain about Governor Christie's decision, insisting a star with Houston's past drug problems should not warrant such a mark of respect.
However, the politician is adamant Houston deserves the honor as she was a "daughter of New Jersey" who made a huge cultural impact around the world, despite her personal issues.
He tells the Associated Press, "I am disturbed by people who believe that because her ultimate demise - and we don't know what is the cause of her death yet - but because of her history of substance abuse that somehow she's forfeited the good things that she did in her life. I just reject that on a human level."
Christie also ordered a flag-lowering following the death of Bruce Springsteen's saxophonist Clarence Clemons last year. The I Will Always Love You hit-maker was found dead in the bath at her suite at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Saturday.