If the names Marsha Shapiro and Louise Walpin sound familiar, it’s because you remember them as two of the best-known plaintiffs in the New Jersey marriage case, and the long-time couple was among the very first to be married when NJ finally had marriage equality – tying the knot just seconds after it became law here, at the home of advocate and (then) Senator Ray Lesniak and his partner Salena Carroll, with a ceremony involving many of NJ’s strongest LGBTQ advocates, including Garden State Equality founder Steven Goldstein, Asm (then Mayor) Jamel Holley, Sen. Loretta Weinberg (and even me). The future of LGBTQ rights remains high on the list of what’s important to Marsha & Louise. Promoted by Rosi.
Nearly five years since we said “I do,” we cannot rest easy when our rights to live free of discrimination and to marry the one we love remain subject to the political whims of those in power and a U.S. Supreme Court that hangs in the balance.
There is no way to overstate what’s at stake for the LGBTQ community in this election, especially with U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin whose disturbingly anti-LGBTQ actions should give everyone pause.
Hugin led a student petition drive to compel Princeton to reverse the university’s extension of anti-discrimination protections to gay and lesbian students. We froze in an all-too-familiar fear when we read his chilling quote in a local news article. He stated that if a member of his exclusive all-male eating club was found to be gay “he wouldn’t last long.” That instantly transported us back to a time we wish to forget.
Those of us in the LGBTQ community know a threat of violence when we hear it. Hugin’s comments weren’t just politically incorrect; they were terrorizing. Anyone in that club secretly struggling with who they were—silently fretting about how their friends would react—got their answer loud and clear from Hugin: “I won’t last long.” Only the worst kind of people have ever threatened anyone who dare come out.
We know what it’s like to struggle with identity. We came out to our family in 1989. It was more than 2 decades later that we came out to the world to help lead the fight for marriage equality. We understand the fear of intimidation and bullying, of being ostracized. It’s why so many LGBTQ people are still in the closet.
Bob Hugin’s actions were indicative of a movement to suppress and intimidate countless LGBTQ people into silence, subordination, and even suicide. Just like Donald Trump, Hugin wants to roll back LGBTQ protections and nominate Supreme Court justices who would take away our rights.
Many Americans, including President Barack Obama, have evolved on the issue of marriage equality. Hugin has NOT!! Hugin contributed thousands of dollars to support Chris Christie’s 2016 campaign, even as Christie vetoed the marriage equality bill passed by the N.J. legislature and spent taxpayer dollars to fight the NJ Lambda Legal marriage equality suit. As much of our lives during those years (2009-2013) were devoted to this fight for equality, we take Hugin’s hypocrisy to heart. He is obviously lying, just like Donald Trump, by pretending to be tolerant and praise the LGBTQ community to gain votes, only to vote against us at every turn if elected.
What Bob Hugin did at Princeton to fight LGBTQ protections, and to intimidate and threaten his gay classmates can’t just be written off as youthful indiscretions. He cannot claim today to be a different person when he has spent millions in the decades since Princeton, consistently supporting candidates like Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Scott Garrett and organizations such as the Heritage Foundation who advance policies that directly attack the LGBTQ community and undermine our rights. He backs Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, who has scored a zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard and does the bidding of the religious right ions
Actions speak louder than words; the Bob Hugin of today is the same intolerant homophobe who spoke those words at Princeton. Bob Hugin would vote to overturn marriage equality and allow businesses to discriminate against gays with his support for judges like Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Don’t think that just because marriage equality is the law of the land that we’re now safe from bigotry and intolerance. In the age of Trump, LGBTQ hate crimes are on the rise everywhere, and just last year, Garden State Equality’s Asbury Park offices were vandalized. If New Jersey elects Bob Hugin, not only do we reward bullying, intimidation, and discrimination, but our right to marriage, our families, and the LGBTQ civil rights we’ve struggled to win for generation won’t last long.
The LGBTQ community has contributed greatly to New Jersey’s rich, diverse culture. We own businesses, raise families, pay taxes and help make our state great. We need someone who has a proven record of representing and fighting for us in the U.S. Senate. That someone is Senator Robert Menendez.