Promoted by Rosi – It was the tweet that ricocheted around New Jersey, not long after Steve Sweeney made an infuriating statement. Angry and kind of profane, Newark Councilman Ron Rice tweeted the fury a lot of us felt:
Much has been made about my Twitter comments regarding Senator Sweeney’s statement on the legislative prioritization of marriage equality. Let me first apologize to the Senator for the passion and heat of my comments. Those that know me personally know that commenting in that tone and fashion is not my normal modus operandi. I have a great deal of respect for the Senator, his leadership capabilities and know that we Democrats need to rally around him to support our principles as a party especially in these hard times.
But it is because of that respect that I made my comments. Senator Sweeney and others in the state Legislature are masters in fighting for the least of these in our society, those ignored and neglected by the world and that is why I am a supporter of his and a proud Democrat. Being the voice of the voiceless is why our party has made the tough decisions that has brought the greatest positive changes to America and New Jersey. We are at our lowest, however, when we retreat from those principles, when we adopt the Ostrich mentality, or when we say, why can’t you wait.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in a Letter from a Birmingham Jail about why African Americans could not wait when progressive White Southern Christian ministers and clergy questioned his direct, non-violent tactics. He wrote:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
I support marriage equality now because my life as a heterosexual man is affected when others in my community that may not be do not have the same rights and privileges I have under the law and Constitution, in fact, my life is somewhat diminished.
I sponsored the legislation creating the most progressive and powerful LGBTIQ Commission in New Jersey with Mayor Cory Booker in Newark because we understand that notion. At a community unveiling of the Commission last week, the pride, commitment to being an active component of our Newark community, and yes, tears of joy showed me the power of empowering someone else, of granting something to someone that you or I take for granted. And it was priceless. But was also priceless was seeing same sex couples at the event, many of whom I know have been in loving realtionships for longer than most of my heterosexual, straight counterparts and I was struck by the fact that their love is not recognized by the law as it should be, FUNDAMENTALLY !!! They are half citizens of my state and city even as the Mayor and I were seeking to give them more power, a terrible dichotomy.
Marriage equality has to happen now and retreat is tantamount to waiting and thereby denying the LGBTIQ community their humanity and by association, a lil’ bit of our own.
I know my leadership in Trenton won’t fail us because they can’t. And my “Tweet” represented that, rightly or wrongly stated. Dr. King also coined the rationale for change in a manner that President Obama references reguarly: the fierce urgency of now. Now, is the time and it is time to step up.