Following almost seven hours of testimony on Thursday, the members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee went on record with their votes to move the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption bill to the full chamber. As in the Senate committee, the vote was along party lines, with some Democrats expressing reservations but ultimately voting for equality while other Democrats were solidly in favor.
The two Republicans on the committee had interesting views and their remarks are worth listening to. It still surprises me how a libertarian like Michael Patrick Carroll can be for discrimination and government intervention in a civil rights issue. His argument comes right out of the Santorum playbook – since there is no societal benefit to equal rights, it’s fine to vote against them.
Freshman GOP Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi appeared torn and indecisive. Her rambling remarks argued both sides of the issue but she ultimately voted for discrimination. I don’t know if she can be flipped, but it would certainly be worthwhile if she could hear from pro-equality constituents. In the arc of the history of the New Jersey Assembly, she’ll go down as having cast her first vote in favor of discrimination. I wonder if she wants this to be the legacy of her political career.
The video is 29 minutes long. If you want to jump ahead, here are the starting times for each speaker:
Gordon Johnson (D) 00:00
Reed Gusciora (D) 02:03
Ralph Caputo (D) 05:58
Annette Quijano (D) 07:40
Holly Schepisi (R) 13:20
Michael Patrick Carroll (R) 21:35
Peter Barnes (D) 22:33