10 AM Open Thread – Marriage Equality Hearing in Assembly Judiciary

UPDATE 7:25: Full Assembly will take A-1 up Feb. 16.

UPDATE 5:10pm: After nearly 7 hours of testimony, the Assembly Judiciary Committee voted 5-2 to send A-1 to the full Assembly for consideration. The vote: YES: Johnson, Gusciora, Caputo, Quijano, Barnes. NO: Carroll, Schepisi. Straight party-line vote.

Steven Goldstein, GSE at Assembly Judiciary 1/2/12
Garden State Equality’s Steven Goldstein in a rare moment of calm

If this post looks familiar, it should: 9 days ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard hours of testimony, then passed S-1 to the full Senate by a vote of 8-4.

Today, Assembly Judiciary Committee hears testimony on A-1.
At the Senate panel session, though there were far more people who showed up and were prepared to testify for equality, about an equal number of pro’s and con’s were chosen to address the committee. This morning, Garden State Equality showed up at the crack of dawn to greet supporters, many of whom arrived wearing EQUALITY The American Dream tee-shirts. Gov. Christie’s response to the rise in the legislature of this issue was the ill-advised and ignorant statement about the civil rights movement which got him a week of the kind of national coverage people usually don’t want.

Assembly Judiciary crowd, ME, 1/2/12
Crowd waits at Assembly Judiciary, many in EQUALITY t-shirts

Two ways (or both) to follow:

  • Follow Blue Jersey on Twitter.

  • Listen LIVE here.

    Please note: You’ll need Windows Media Player, which takes a few moments to download. There’s a link for it on the Statehouse media page. Hearings often start late, so keep refreshing the page until it’s up.

  • We’ll keep this an Open Thread. So if you’re listening or in the audience, please let us know what you’re hearing and thinking.  
  • Comments (152)

    1. Bill Orr

      The Assembly Judiciary Committee members are:

      Barnes, Peter J. – Chair (D-18); Quijano, Annette – Vice-Chair (D-20); Caputo, Ralph R. (D-28); Carroll, Michael Patrick (R-25); Johnson, Gordon M. (D-37); McKeon, John F. (D-27); and Schepisi, Holly (R-39).

      MPW will vote no. Schepisi just joined the Legislature last month. She is a lawyer (Catholic University of America) in private practice, and has served as a township attorney and former intern of Congreswoman Marge Roukema.

      The bill is expected to pass the committee, but it’s future on the Assembly floor is less clear.

      Sen. Weinberg has said, This is one of those moments that can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” Our hearts and actions must be made clearer to legislators. More calls, letters, e-mails, tweets, and meetings with “on the fence” Democrats in both the Assembly and Senate can make the difference.

    2. denniscmcgrath

      and they provide a link so you can send Gov. Christie a message protesting his nominiation of an out black Republican, Bruce Harris, to the NJ state Supreme Court. Or, you could use the link to, you know, support Mr. Harris (on NOM’s dime) …


      Yeah, you’ll end up getting e-mail from NOM but that costs them something, too.

    3. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      We’re here to right a wrong.

    4. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      By the way, we’re also live-tweeting this: @bluejersey. Please follow, RT, and join in.

    5. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Speaker Sheila Oliver noting that Freedom Rider Rep. John Lewis of GA came to #NJ to talk #NJEquality

    6. Rosi Efthim (Post author)


    7. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      This is what Chris Christie called Assemblyman Reed Gusciora this week. It took national coverage and MLK’s disciple Rep. John Lewis to come to NJ to get Chris Christie to apologize for his unhistorical and arrogant slur on the civil rights movement, but he pointedly did not apologize to Gusciora for what he called him. Now Gusciora says the kind of name-calling we’ve had this week would ramp up if in fact we had the referendum on this right that Christie wants to have.  

    8. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Gusciora reads section of bill exempting religious institutions and their facilities from holding gay marriages.

    9. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      No one’s civil rights should be subjected to a popularity contest. Reminds colleagues of the oath of office they took just a few days ago.

    10. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      shares stories of employers and hospitals not giving equal treatment to couples in civil unions.

    11. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      we delay is a day justice is delayed.  

    12. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Weinberg up next. New Jersey Marriage Equality godmother, Blue Jersey writer, Senate Majority Leader, and sponsor of the Senate ME bill.

    13. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      When my husband was ill and we had to face end of life issues, nobody asked us about our relationship.  

    14. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Reminds Assemblymen that two fellow members of the assembly – Reed Gusciora and Tim Eustace – might like to get married. How you can look at your colleague in the face and say you’re not going to vote for this, is something I don’t understand.  

    15. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Loretta Weinberg reminds Assembly Judiciary of the last referendum on a civil right: 1915, when we voted down a woman’s right to vote.

      This is about family values.  

    16. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      one of two openly gay members in the Assembly, speaks next. With him, his son Kyle, who will also testify.  

    17. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      The last word in “gay people” is “people” Everybody deserves rights.

      His father, is one of 2 openly gay members of the NJ Assembly.

    18. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Galluccio family, members of the Blue Jersey community, both husbands and some – not even all – of their children: “I want you to see this, because we are a family.”

    19. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Will you help me? This is my family and I want us to be able to have the same rights as you. First applause of the day, for Madison, who was weeping during her testimony. Her brother up next.  

    20. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Father of Michael, who just spoke with his kids and partner.

      Adolph speaks of how he was ashamed of his gay son 30 years ago, but realized there was nothing to be ashamed of. We have 4 kids – 1 gay, 3 not. We treat all their families the same. We ask that you do too.  

    21. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Our friend Babs Casbar: Outlines how religious entities do not lose their rights if gay people’s rights to marry are recognized.

      Babs was a member of the Civil Union Commission, was married herself and is now widowed. Babs is also the first Transgender member of the Democratic National Committee and serves in its Executive Committee now.  

    22. Rosi Efthim (Post author)
    23. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      downplaying the number of complaints that New Jersey civil unions are not working.

      Next, a rabbi to speak about “moral values”.  

    24. Tom Wyka

      …following at my desk at work  😉

    25. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      gets ready to testify a few minutes from now:


    26. Alex

      Thanks, Rosi, for including them. It’s almost like being there. 🙂

    27. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Why do they continue to try to read their written testimony? They’ve been asked not to repeatedly. And they take too long trying to do it.  

    28. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      to get ready to testify. That’s Tom’s wife, my good friend and Jeff Gardner’s through DFA. A good soul, and fellow supporter of equality, straight corps.  

    29. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Deciminyan snapped this picture of Blue Jersey’s writer, Senate Majority Leader, (Senate sponsor of marriage equality) and NJ Marriage Equality Godmother Loretta Weinberg, testifying without notes:


    30. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Talks about sign he saw: DIVORCE $399. Kind of sad, right? But it’s the law. I’m a Roman Catholic, former alter boy. Extremely Catholic family – Catholic School educated. And from a completely supportive family.  

    31. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Only way we should send this to a referendum is to ask New Jerseyans how they would vote on divorce. Maybe divorced people shouldn’t be allowed to remarry.

    32. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      I am the very proud mother of a gay son. When he came out, I truly believe the Holy Spirit was guiding him.  

    33. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Assembly sponsor of this bill – and the man Chris Christie called “numbnuts” this week for defending civil rights history and opposing the Guv’s call for a marriage referendum, giving testimony a few minutes ago:


    34. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      We’re the people you hardly hear from. You hear from the higher ups – the bishops. But we differ from the hierarchy. Their position is inhuman.  

    35. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      testifying. Rights cannot exist in theory, they have to exist in reality, or they’re worthless.

    36. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Just celebrated with Tom 20 years of marriage. Practicing Catholics, raising their children in the faith. Jokes her husband is “her first”. And – State is perfectly happy to let her marry again and again. But the state can’t force her church to marry her in the church. This will not take away her church’s rights.

      Her children – like many other children – don’t understand what all this fuss is about. Allowing same-sex couples makes sense to them.  

    37. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Luanne Peterpaul is making me cry.

      I am so proud of the testimony the pro-equality side is giving today, and gave last week. Community-minded. Family-minded. Decent. Fair. Articulate. Lovely.

    38. the pollster

      Who thinks the US should be a theocracy is speaking right now.

    39. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      stand at the opposite ends of the moral spectrum.

      Some of the testimony from some of the anti-folks isn’t very nice.  

    40. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Testifying a few minutes ago:


    41. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Connecting civil rights community and gay rights community “offends” some members of the African-American community? THIS is why you think people objected so strongly to Gov. Christie’s ignorant comment (for which he reluctantly apologized) this week?

      You ignorant, arrogant, superior woman. F*cking Eagle Forum.  

    42. huntsu

      Len Deo: This guy.

    43. huntsu

      Speaker Sheila Oliver, Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, NJDSC Chair, have all left the room over the last few minutes.

      Heading into the 3rd hour of testimony now.  

    44. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Teacher to kid: “Elijah – you have two Daddies! That’s cool!”

      Yeah, sometimes I love this world.  

    45. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Our teachers are very diverse. Our students also diverse. We’re proud to teach, drive, nurse, attend to them all. That’s why we are for marriage equality. We want equality & justice for all our students.  

    46. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Our union believes we will not enjoy free and just America until rights for all, including men marrying men, and women women.  

    47. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      There are some of you folks I’m just glad to say I don’t have to live in the same religion as you. You’re superior, lecturing, and you obviously have a very limited view of the world. I don’t know if the God you worship would even recognize you.

      Leaders of so many faiths in New Jersey have expressed the support and love for ALL their parishioners – read it here. Where is YOUR love for the world?  

    48. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Can’t believe we got all the way to 152 minutes of testimony before Saint Anne Heche of the Reformed Former Homosexual was mentioned.  

    49. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      All of the TV press is gone. Only about 6 at the press table – including Blue Jersey. Much less coverage than at the Senate hearings.

    50. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      My friends, and fellow board members at Garden State Equality. This is their story. Louise’s daughter, who Marsha considers her child also, speaking now.  

    51. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Danny Weiss: In NJ we have a civil union once we cross the Hudson we have something that nobody else understands.

    52. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Tearfully explaining to the funeral director what their relationship is as they prepared to bury their son. “Our relationship continues to be invalidated by health care facilities.” “Civil unions are forcing us to sit on the sidelines of society and we do not understand why.”

    53. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Pro-equality testimony: Personal. Tearful. Family-oriented.

      Anti-equality testimony: Lecturing. Superior. Impersonal.

    54. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Tyler Clementi’s cousin. Talking about his suicide, and the way his absence affected her wedding.  

    55. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Tyler Clementi’s cousin: Tells how her Catholic friends and Deacon offered their love and the Eucharist when #Tyler died.

    56. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Gov. Christie, a Catholic whose children are being educated in the faith, is on record as against marriage equality. He is also on record expressing New Jersey’s sorrow at the loss by suicide of Tyler Clementi. But I do not see how he could maintain that position with just a few minutes in the presence of this grieving bride whose cousin jumped off the George Washington Bridge to his death.  

    57. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      who is now preaching at the top of his voice to to the hearing room. Somebody tell him to Pipe Down!

    58. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      We would see there is an emotional issue (behind homosexual behavior).

    59. deciminyan

      Who tried to shout down the crazy witness

    60. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Among the most moving testimony today, immediately scorned by the very next person who testified that “some of this testimony” was pitched to get you tearful. Here is Tyler’s cousin, a new bride, who talked about his loss in her life, and asked for equality “for all the Tylers out there:”


    61. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      You will be endorsing a crime against God.  

    62. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Danny, John, Louise, Marsha:


    63. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Said with as much scorn by these people as “homosexual”.  

    64. zi985

      I’m listening to the hearing live right now and I’m surprised that I haven’t heard a single testimony from an atheist/agnostic/non-believer.  I respect religion and people’s personal religious beliefs but I get incredibly frustrated and annoyed when I hear people quoting Biblical and religious verses to justify why we shouldn’t have marriage equality.  How about hearing some testimony from a non-believer to show some evidence that religion is not the end-all be-all and that religion does not and should not apply to an issue like this.

    65. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      There is a “code of silence” in effect right now, that I couldn’t love him and also at the same time have my opinion, which is in support of “natural marriage”. I used to be heavily addicted to pornography and it was only through the bible I was able to be cured.

      #gay #denial  

    66. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      to sum up that young testifier who just finished speaking. I give any young person for taking the time, and braving the sense of intimidation of a legislative hearing room. I don’t know if he’s gay. I don’t know if he’s in denial. But I do know that the people he’s testifying with, with their talk of “same sex attraction” and how you can “get over that” as so many people “want to do” – those people for whom Anne Heche is patron saint (though she doesn’t want to be) are offensive to anybody thinking more fairly, and with more respect and affection for people.

      And I’m straight. I can’t begin to imagine how that feels to be in the room, 10 feet away, and hear that kind of nasty, pious judgement.  

    67. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      “Same-sex attraction”


    68. CariAnnV

      “people who oppose this legislation do not hate gay people”

    69. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Peter Barnes says all who want to testify will have their chance.  

    70. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Charles Parachian “I’m here with my illegal husband of 21 years and 5 of our 6 adopted children.” Hilarious.  

    71. CariAnnV

      “I’m here with my illegal husband of 21 years and 5 of our 6 adopted children”

      Their adoption certificates say parent and parent, not father and father.

    72. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Testified a few minutes ago. He is the one who said he can feel love for Tyler at the same time as hold his own opinion about marriage. He is for “natural marriage,” saying the bible cured him of his addiction to pornography.

      Rutgers classmate of Tyler Clementi, anti-ME

    73. CariAnnV

      “people of faith disagree”

    74. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Michael Patrick Carroll listens to a rabbi’s testimony:

      Michael Patrick Carroll listens to rabbi's testimony

    75. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      testifying that jobs, economy are more important than this issue, that none of the Assembly members campaigned on ME as the most important issue. And it shouldn’t be bill A-1 while people sit in union halls with double digit unemployment.  

    76. CariAnnV

      “Civil unions work.”

      “1 in 10 of us are not working.”

      “Foreclosures at an all time high.

      Is this really the single most important legislative goal for our state?”

    77. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Feel free to jump in if you’re listening.  

    78. CariAnnV

      Clergy who stand for same-sex marriage are doubly responsible to God and have more of a consequence to God than we do.

      So if they are willing to oppose God, they’ll suffer the consequences.

    79. CariAnnV

      “we need to mourn for those who never truly lived”

      their life direction was robbed from them by people who told them they had to change

    80. CariAnnV

      Son Mark came out when he was 11 1/2.

      He’s been mentally abused and attacked and lives in fear every day of his life.

      “Does anybody really think my son would have chosen this life for himself”

      “Beaten so down that he didn’t want to live”

      “I am a mother and I cannot wrap my mind around how in 2012 he can’t get legally married in the state of NJ”

      I talk to him about civil unons and how they don’t work and how he is viewed as a second class citizen.

      One of my kids was born with equal rites, the other one was not.

      Every human being deserves the right for equal and full equality

      “Stop this hate.”

      “They are not hurting anybody or affecting anybody else’s life.

      “Please vote as if it was your own son.”

    81. deciminyan

      A staffer just informed me that there’s about 3 more hours of testimony

    82. CariAnnV

      “Hallmark doesn’t make a Happy Civil Union anniversary card”

      Laughs from crowd.

    83. CariAnnV

      discuss federal financial inequities

      quote book of Ruth – your people will be my people.

    84. CariAnnV

      Many biblical prophets had more than 1 wife at a time.

      The biblical definition of marriage needs to be clarified.

      Lists many churches that agree with Marriage Equality

      Many different religious viewpoints, state can’t accept just one viewpoint on the matter.

    85. CariAnnV

      “as a clergy person it hurts” presiding over the union of a same-sex couple

      I become an accomplice to the injustice because marriages are denied.

      my heart aches for these families we’ve heard from today

    86. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Testimony of all the young people today – both pro-ME and con – from young child through college student, has been articulate.  

    87. CariAnnV

      16 year old wants her Moms to Marry.

      She adores them.

      I adore Jessica.

    88. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      “I love my moms and I think they should be able to get married.”

    89. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      “I love my moms and I think they should be able to get married.”

    90. CariAnnV

      Wife is a teacher, Insurance not covered when school couldn’t prove civil union.

      No one else had to prove their marriages

    91. CariAnnV

      “I don’t have the audacity to say I speak for God”

      God does not discriminate and neither should the state of NJ

    92. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Craig Hirshfeld – as a minister I have counseled numerous couples gay and straight. Always ask: Why do you want to get married now? Inevitably they see it as the next step in their deep seated love. If you’ve ever been married or felt that, you know what I mean. I don’t have the audacity to say I speak for God. But this gift … is universal. When I counsel same-sex couples, I have to tell them the state doesn’t sanction their union, that they may not be treated the same as marriage.  

      Rev. Craig Hirshfeld testifying pro-ME

    93. CariAnnV

      “Everyone’s love is welcome before God in our sanctuary.”

      The state requires me to not marry them legally

      “I need the state to get out of my sanctuary”

      “Let me just get back to marrying people in love.”

    94. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      And I just heard Joey Novick’s name called. On a personal level, since I love him, I can’t wait to hear what he says about love itself, and the rights of all our couples to marry.  

    95. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      And I just heard Joey Novick’s name called. On a personal level, since I love him, I can’t wait to hear what he says about love itself, and the rights of all our couples to marry.  

    96. CariAnnV

      Marries same-sex couples.

      When they ask me “This is the same as marriage isn’t it?”

      I know it’s not.  

    97. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Equality an easy concept to understand. Give one kid 2 pieces of candy, another 1, inequality is quickly understood by both kids.  

    98. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Equality an easy concept to understand. Give one kid 2 pieces of candy, another 1, inequality is quickly understood by both kids.  

    99. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Libertarian or conservative may ask: How does granting same sex marriage serve the government?

      Better question, Joey says: How does limiting this liberty serve the government?

      (I think that’s what he said – can I tell you, I went all a-twitter …)

    100. CariAnnV

      “We support the Marriage Equality Act.”

    101. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Speaking in support of Marriage Equality.  

    102. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Cute, isn’t he?

      Joey Novick testifies pro-ME

    103. CariAnnV

      “What kind of stony hearted people are we?”

      As long as people who are gay are treated as second class citizens by our government, they’ll be treated as second class in playgrounds all over NJ

      – if you think otherwise, you are kidding yourself

      If you vote against this bill, go to bed knowing kids all over this state are lying in their bed crying.

      Pushing off the vote to a political votes extends their pain.

      Religious persecution goes back 100s of years, but American history is about breaking traditions.

      Will some people have to get used to it? Sure

      They had to get used to seeing black people married to white people as well.

    104. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      for all the help today live blogging and live-tweeting!

    105. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Mary Kate Simmons and I’m here because I believe in Love and that’s all this bill is about. Some people are here because they say they believe in traditional marriage. I don’t think so. A hundred years ago traditional marriage meant you could beat your wife.

      I think they mean they support the tradition of marriage. I (too) support the tradition of marriage. Wants to take her beloved to be her wife. Recites the vows she would like to say to marry her love.  

    106. CariAnnV

      Catholic, Republican, Gay

      Marriage equality is an issue of equal rites under NJ law.

      As a Republican I’m ashamed of my governor.

    107. CariAnnV

      quotes teen suicide note:

      “My pain is not caused because I am gay

      My pain is because how I am treated because I am gay.”

    108. CariAnnV
    109. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      I’ll forgo writing what assembly judiciary members are saying, and give you the vote wrap up as soon as they all clock in.  

    110. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      back in hearing room

    111. CariAnnV

      Who is the woman talking who is going on for so long?  

    112. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Votes as follows:

      Johnson: YES

      Gusciora: YES

      Caputo: YES

      Quijano: YES

      Carroll: NO

      Schepisi: NO

      Barnes: YES

      Note: Holly Schepisi was sworn in Jan. 10th. This is her first vote as an Assembly member.

      A-1 passes to full Assembly by vote of 5-2.

    113. Alex

      …for providing succinct and frequent updates. Unlike last time, I couldn’t get the audio feed to work so this was a lifeline. Even better, it made it easier to ignore the pointless testimony and focus on what mattered. Thanks!


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