Somebody reminded me that tonight at midnight is the 2-year anniversary of marriage equality in NJ. That means it’s anniversary time for two good friends, Marsha Shapiro and Louise Walpin, plaintiffs in the Lambda Legal NJ marriage case that led to the law. It’s also anniversary time for a lot of other people across the state, married in that jubilant hour in the early morning of October 21, 2013. Happy Anniversary to all the (still) newlyweds.
Marsha and Louise made history, and there was a crush of reporters recording every moment. The setting was the home of Sen. Ray Lesniak – sponsor with Sen. Loretta Weinberg of the marriage equality legislation in the NJ Senate – and Salena Carroll of the NJ Civil Rights Commission. Roselle Mayor Jamel Holley (now Assemblyman) officiated. Steven Goldstein, founder of Garden State Equality, said the blessing. Weinberg walked the brides ‘down the aisle’ from a back bedroom and into the living room. Friends held the chuppah. Two minutes before the ceremony, the brides realized they forgot “something borrowed,” so they were married wearing two rings I pulled off my fingers.
The ceremony began just before midnight. Then we all held our breath, and watched the clock. When it struck midnight, the ceremony was finished, to many tears and snapping of photos.
There were firsts all over New Jersey that night. On the boardwalk at Asbury Park. In Lambertville, where Mayor Dave DelVecchio married Councilwoman Beth Asaro to Joanne Schailey, reprising the role he took when civil unions were recognized in 2007. In Newark, where a jubilant Mayor Cory Booker (now Senator) married a waiting crowd of gay couples in love. In Jersey City, where Mayor (soon NJGov 2017 candidate) Steve Fulop united 8 waiting couples.
It was a triumphant night, all around the state. Many people worked for many years to make it happen. October 21st isn’t just an anniversary for Marsha and Louise, it’s anniversary night for a lot of couples all over New Jersey tonight. Let it be a reminder of what we can accomplish together.