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Ok, NJ Lesbians and Gays have “marriage equality” … We’ve got LGBT workplace protections, inclusive hate crimes, anti-bullying laws and a trans inclusive gay reparative therapy law. So, really, what’s next? Anything? Can we go home now? Well, not quite.
More on this, and how to find out about the LGBT Dems organizing meeting Tuesday in Edison, below the fold.
Last year the legislature passed a simple technical law to streamline and modernize the policy for amending birth certificates for transgender New Jerseyans, which did not get the votes of 21 Democrats. Is it any wonder that Christie vetoed the bill? Can health insurance companies still discriminate against some LGBT people? Yes, they certainly do! Horizon Blue Cross is one of the biggest offenders. How many “out” LGBT legislators do we have, 2 out of 120? How many voting members of the NJ Democratic State Committee are LGBT … try one out of approximately 100!
Unlike most states the NJ Democratic State Party (NJDSC) has not had any formal active constituency caucuses. When Jim McGreevey was Governor there was a movement to do some formal organizing, but John Corzine who as US Senator did regular and organized constituency out reach, as Governor seemed to be disinterested.
You might think that NJ, a state that had protections for gays and lesbians in employment, housing, and public accommodations since 1992, had hate crimes protections and in 2002 with the safer schools bill had it’s first fully LGBT inclusive law … might have had an out gay member on their Democratic State Committee! Would you have thought so? Well, it was not until 2013 that there was a member who identified primarily as gay of lesbian who was elected to the NJDSC.
It was not until 2006 that the very first out LGBT person became a member of the State Committee. And that first person was actually a transgender woman, and no, not me! Denise Brunner, a board member of both Garden State Equality and the NJ Stonewall Democrats, owned and drove her large RV, AKA the “Equality Express”, all around the state , both for transgender rights and marriage equality.
In 2009, I was appointed Deputy Vice Chair of the NJDSC, and although my focus was more centered on the National party, where began encouraging LGBT folks to get more directly involved in the Party infrastructure. The election of Tim Eustace to the NJ Assembly in 2011, not only doubled the out LGBT representation in our legislature joining Reed Gusciora, but enabled a new spark of proactive LGBT equality legislation and a recognition that LGBT people were not actively part of the Democratic political infrastructure and that was problematic.
When Tim and Reed and their senior staff people seemed to pick up the ball on addressing this and were ready to put together a team, we jumped on it and we are all now in the midst of organizing a diverse politically savvy grasstops and grassroots team, the NJDSC LGBT Caucus!
Our second organizing meeting is Tuesday January 28 in Edison.