I found her scrunched up sitting on the floor, this 14-year-old with long hair. She was balancing a ballpoint pen in one hand and a folder of papers in the other. Writing a letter to an Assemblyman she hasn’t had a chance to vote for yet, and asking some advice from my friend, Essex DFA leader Katherine Joyce.
Her name’s Jessie. Earnest kid. Goes to Montclair HS. Half the people in the room were young. High school kids like Jessie, or college. But also couples. Families. About 150 people, spilling out into the hallway, sitting on the floor, cross-legged on tables, using each other’s backs to write on. An emergency meeting, one of 6 last night – all over North Jersey. Tonight, Central & South Jersey: Hillsborough (where I’ll be), Asbury Park, New Brunswick, Westfield, Collingswood.
But this was Jessie’s first time at HQ. Before Jessie’s best friend Isabelle came out last year, Jessie had no opinion one way or another about same-sex marriage. Never thought about it. But when it was about Izzy, she jumped in. Pretty simple stuff, the way she tells it:
I’m just standing up for my friend. And if I didn’t have a gay best friend, I’d be standing up for somebody else’s best friend.
Boom. There it is: After a couple decades of the gay rights movement resting too heavily on the shoulders of a minority population forced to advocate for their own rights, the movement’s now broader, more a consensus. Not just gay people anymore, but other people standing behind them, and with them. Just simply grasping the idea of fairness.
With Chris Christie’s election not 100 hours old, a shifting landscape, it’s absolutely the right time to reach critical mass, to let legislators know that we don’t go away, and we expect this to pass now. See, Jessie wants government to do “what’s right” for Izzy, “to get my friend set in a better future for when she’s older.”
See who else I met last night, after the jump.