Leadership, Mr. Senate President

UPDATE: Read Senator Loretta Weinberg’s response to Sweeney’s statement.

Senator Sweeney,

You’ll remember me, I think. I lobbied you a few weeks ago, on the issue of marriage equality. I was representing the several thousand New Jersey members of Democracy for America in this state, DFA-NJ, and the thousands of readers of this political website.

I wasn’t there advocating for myself. Any change in marriage law in this state will not affect me personally. I was in the room with you because bringing marriage law that affects gay people to parity with what is available to you, and to me, Senator, is the right thing to do. I’m straight, and I stand behind, and with gay people who are asking you to take a leadership role – not a mere vote – in making this right.

According to reports, you just minutes ago advised a group of local officials that it is the economy and not marriage equality that is important. And that now is not the time to drive marriage equality through a vote in the legislature.

Senator, I lobbied you along with a religious leader, the leaders of several other Democratic-activist groups, and a couple who have spent their lives in the care of children, and who told you first-hand the ways in which their state’s marriage law has let them – and their children – down. Your response, Senator, was so encouraging. You gave us more than 90 minutes at the end of a long day. You listened with unmistakeable empathy.

I’m writing now, because I am merely angry and disappointed. My gay friends – some of whom you met that day – are devastated.

We expected so much more of you, personally, and I hope that you will reconsider. So we lost the governor’s race. So, the new guy is not a supporter of marriage equality, and thinks civil unions are fine. I think you know better than that, and I think you know better than Mr. Christie knows.

If you become – as you suggest – our new Senate President, I am asking that your leadership emerge now, and that you show some solidarity now to people who have not only been the strongest supporters of your Party, but who have waited long enough. You know that bringing this law to parity for gay families does nothing to delay the legislature’s ability to tackle our economy.

You know better.

What the hell are you thinking?

Reconsider. Please.

Comments (22)

  1. Matthew Jordan

    (856) 251-9801 (West Deptford)

    (856) 455-1011 (Bridgeton)

    (856) 339-0808 (Salem)

    Email him:


  2. Jason Springer

    why it’s not the right time to give our friends the rights they deserve.

  3. Bertin Lefkovic

    …progressives cannot cede any aspect of the political process, whether it seems to be inside baseball or not, to the elected officials and party leaders.

    We need to educate ourselves about everything, have an opinion about everything, and be organized enough to advocate about everything.

    Far too many people were dismissive of the leadership battle that arose during the most recent election cycle as insiders taking their eyes off the prize, but that just shows how naive we can be.

    Elections, whether they be presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial, congressional, legislative, or otherwise are not the only prizes and sometimes, they are not even the most important prizes.

    Leadership battles, like the one which took place here in NJ over the last few months determine what kind of legislative agenda we will see in our state over the next two years, and with a Republican Governor for the next four years, these same battles determine the degree to which a conservative agenda will be resisted or supported.

    It is probably too late to engage this process at this stage in the game, but hopefully, this experience will provide us with a teachable moment as to how much more engaged and organized with regards to every aspect of the political process we have to be going forward.

    It is great to have a cool blog and a fun podcast, but these need to be means to an end and not an end unto themselves.  It is clearly not enough to have great progressive organizations with their own agenda communicating ideas and ideals between the grassroots and the leadership.  These organizations must work in concert with one another and have both short-term and long-term goals and objectives and plans on how to achieve them.

    There has been some debate about whether the best way to make the Democratic Party more progressive is to compete with the Democratic establishment as Democrats or Republicans, but this debate becomes irrelevant if progressives are not engaged, organized, and working towards expanding our numbers, activating them on a daily basis, and making their voices heard.

  4. firstamend07

    Why bring this up if it does not have 21 votes?

    #1 Can it get out of Sarlo’s Committee?

    #2 Name the 21 State Senators who will vote for this.

    If the supporters of this Bill want it so bad then they better start working and stop complaining.

    Sweeney is just being realistic. If a vote was taken tonight the Bill would fail.

    Everyone should stop complaining about Sweeney and start working to get 21 votes.

    Can anyone name 21?  

  5. tabbycat31

    you have to become active in getting this legislation passed.

    1) Call your Senator on a daily basis whether or not he/she supports marriage equality.

    2) Get at least 3 friends/family members to also do the same thing and call their (hopefully in your district) Senator on a daily basis.

    3) Send your Senator (and Assembly members) a hand-written letter telling them why you support marriage equality.  If you’re straight like me, mention it.  If you’re Catholic, mention it.  If you’re Republican, mention it.  Try and tell a personal story beyond the talking points.

    4) Volunteer your time to help get marriage equality passed in New Jersey.  Garden State Equality now has 4 offices throughout the state and needs volunteers to help out with phone banking (one at the Asbury Park office tomorrow night).

    5) If you cannot volunteer your time, consider making a donation to Garden State Equality.


  6. 12mileseastofTrenton

    but I told you so.  Steve Sweeney and Chris Christie.  Perfect together.  

  7. firstamend07

    Stop whining and start working!

    In politics nothing is ever handed to you .

    Here let me teach you!

    Contact Sarlo and get the Bill posted in Committee.

    Contact Codey and get him to post it to the full Senate.

    Get the 4 Republicans and then work on the best 17 Democrats.

    Did any of you ever do this before?

    It is not rocket science !  


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