This is big news. It’s clear from their statement that GSE and NJ Stonewall Democrats had a difficult time coming to this decision.
To tell it like it is, our organizations would have preferred to make the same endorsement that Governor Jon Corzine, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and county party leaders have made.
But in a state legislature where almost all Democrats and many Republicans have been supportive of LGBTI rights, Albio Sires has been stand-out awful. At every turn throughout his time in the Assembly, he has sent signals of being deeply uncomfortable with equality for the LGBTI community.
In fact, our organizations waited until this late stage to endorse a candidate in this race in order to give Assemblyman Sires and his staff every opportunity to meet with us. They would not.
The statement goes on to detail Sires’ poor record when it comes to GLBTI issues, but what stood out for me was what they said next:
Though we are LGBTI rights organizations, we must note with great discomfort that Assemblyman Sires has a chequered record on a woman’s right to choose. A self-described Reagan conservative until he switched parties strategically — to run in a district where no Republican could win — he once opposed a woman’s right to choose including in cases of rape or incest.
Mayor Vas, on the other hand, is a longtime progressive and one of the LGBTI community’s staunchest allies. He is a Prime Sponsor of the transgender equality bill in the state legislature. He supports needle exchange to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. And he has spoken out repeatedly against amending the federal and state constitutions to ban marriage equality.
These guys seem to get it. Though they’re “single-issue” groups, they recognize the importance of building progressive alliances and working beyond their natural constituent base as a necessity to progressive success. They look out for their friends. Unlike NARAL which took a beating from Lieberman and came back to endorse him anyway, the leadership of GSE and the Stonewall Democrats took the much more politically difficult route of putting their principles first, knowing that they will probably get a cold reception at the next political cocktail party.
The entire press release is below, and I strongly encourage you to read it all.