I headed to Trenton today for the fourth time in with the faint hope of witnessing history. Instead I witnessed a community denied the basic civil right of marriage. Throughout the campaign for marriage equality, I also learned where the pockets of the LGBT population are. By using logic and common sense, one would think that the senator who admits that his district is “the gayest in the state” would vote in favor of allowing his LGBT constituents to marry. But clearly logic does not exist in Senator Sean Kean’s (R-Monmouth) mind.
In the last five years, the city of Asbury Park has made a miraculous comeback. For the first time in over a generation people want to move to and visit Asbury Park. People are no longer afraid of walking down the streets of Asbury. One group of people is largely (and correctly) credited with Asbury Park’s comeback. And Bruce Springsteen has nothing to do with this group. The group is the gay and lesbian community, who invested in Asbury Park’s comeback. Now the city has a boardwalk with many new businesses, hotels, restaurants, and entertainment. The gay community is as essential to Asbury Park’s comeback as water is to an aquarium. Unfortunately the one person that Asbury Park counted on to be an ally in Trenton just threw the community where he works (in his non-government job) and his constituents under the bus. Today, Senator Kean, you threw your friends who own a restaurant in Ocean Grove, and helped you celebrate being elected, under the bus. I hope that they have the dignity to no longer call you their friend.
Today, Senator Kean, I am ashamed to call myself your constituent. I first contacted you Senator about the issue of marriage equality over a year ago, when I realized it could be on New Jersey’s radar. I received a letter in response completely flipping my view and thanking me for “supporting traditional marriage” and was absolutely disgusted. (On a side note, can anyone in a traditional marriage who’s marriage was negatively affected by someone else’s same sex marriage please contact me.) As a legislator, you are welcome to disagree with me on an issue, but you have an obligation to listen to my opinion because ultimately you represent me. You did not listen to my opinion and instead flipped it, and that Senator is unacceptable behavior. I thought you would be a complete long shot on the issue when I first volunteered at Garden State Equality, and was pleasantly surprised to see you on the fence. However today on the senate floor, I saw more flip-flops from you than I see on a summer day on the beach. You had our hopes up and then let us down.
Senator Kean, after admitting that you represent “the gayest district in the state” why on earth would you vote against your constituents? On the senate floor today, you mentioned that this issue impacts “only a minority.” But Senator, do you realize that more than the minority care about marriage equality? I’ve been fighting for marriage equality since June, and this is an issue that has no impact on me whatsoever. I’m a straight woman who is perpetually single. I take my right to marry for granted. But there are several people who have been in committed relationships for years that would love to get married, but New Jersey is keeping them from doing so even if their religion allows it.
Do you not realize that the gay community is very politically active? You do realize that your vote today possibly cost you any political future, including your senate seat. And don’t think that your district is always Republican either, as President Obama carried the district in 2008. The fight has just begun, and this will be the first of many articles I write on the political future of Sean Kean. As a progressive community (gay and straight), we now have to mobilize. We need to find a candidate who can defeat Sean Kean, and make him regret his vote on marriage equality. If there was ever a call to action, this is it. As soon as I hear any news on a potential challenger to Sean Kean, I will update the Blue Jersey community.