This is what happened when bigotry showed its face in Franklin Township.

“The days of shaming people because of their identity are gone.”

              – public comment, Franklin Twp. School Board

Not long ago, bigots and fearful people could use intimidation to force gay people to live their lives fully or partly in the closet, afraid to lose a job, a position, a friend, and sometimes unable simply to be themselves.

Last night we witnessed an outpouring of community respect for Franklin Twp School Board President Ed Potosnak, who came under attack from board colleague Pat Stanley for a pro-equality speech made to Franklin HS grads on the very day of the SCOTUS marriage decision. Clear in the speech is that Ed is gay. As dozens of people stood to speak at this meeting – for 90 minutes – several things became clear:

(1) Homophobes still wanting to bully gay people – be warned. Ms. Stanley was told in no uncertain terms that she was the one whose words were unacceptable, and she is the one who isolates herself.

(2) The anti-gays often have other unsavory tendencies. Turns out Stanley also voted against the district’s breakfast program, prompting a wave of scowls in the room.

(3) Franklin’s home to all kinds of people. And parents, local leaders and residents want kids to know that whoever they are will be met with acceptance and support. That includes board presidents.

Adding (4) Stanley keeps referring to Ed’s words as “a political speech” or turning graduation into “a political event.” In fact, the marriage decision is history now and the future for graduating students. Related, noonstar takes issue with what I wrote – my calling Ed’s a pro-equality speech – and the objection is thoughtful and worth reading.

Ed Potosnak is getting married in a few days. And what this community gave him last night is better and more life-affirming than anything anybody could give him wrapped into a box with pretty paper and ribbon. Love wins in Franklin Township. And now let me add mine. Congratulations, Ed. You deserved it.  

Comments (4)

  1. the pollster

    So many people came out to support Ed and oppose the hateful mindset of Patricia Stanley.

    Many local residents spoke eloquently of their community–that its diversity is its strength.  One speaker, a playwright and Franklin resident, spoke of coming out to his friends back in the 1990s and receiving love and support. This is the kind of place Franklin is–supportive and respectful of its diversity.

    Congratulations to Franklin Township!! And a hearty Congratulations to Ed Potosnak on his upcoming wedding!!  

    Reply
  2. noonstar

    While this is a very good article, there is one point made in the second paragraph which invites comment.  Mr. Potosnak’s commencement speech was about  the graduates not considering themselves too small or weak to change society, offering recent examples, including the US Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision made that day, to make this point.  Ms. Stanley tried to portray the speech as a pro-equality “political” speech and thus inappropriate for a commencement ceremony.  In reality the speech was non-political and meant to encourage the commitment and courage to achieve.  Mr. Potosnak’s speech was not a pro-equality speech, and referring to it as such seems ironically to support Ms. Stanley’s point.

    Reply
  3. Babs NJSD

    Incompetence or ignorance?

    Talking about a civil court decision on a civil contract matter in a civil/secular venue of a civil/ secular institution, paid by civil/secular tax dollars … where does religion come in to this, what possible relevance?

    Reply

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