I’m so proud of my own Assemblywoman, Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood/Teaneck/Hackensack) here in Bergen County. As you know, Valerie took Loretta Weinberg’s place in the Assembly, as Loretta’s endorsed candidate, when Loretta moved to the State Senate in 2005 in an horrific intraparty battle. That was when Loretta, Valerie and the progressive, good-government side faced off against the old-time party bosses – and our side won.
I just received Valerie’s latest letter to consituents where she proudly states her support for marriage equality – saying she believes same-sex couples deserve and need the name “marriage.” She spends two paragraphs on her support for LGBTI rights, including in the very first paragraph of the letter.
Mind you, this letter went to ALL her constituents, including to the district’s many Orthodox Jewish residents. It is also not one of the more LGBTI districts in the state – I’d say it’s in the upper-third, to be sure, but it’s not Jersey City, Asbury, Maplewood/South Orange or Montclair.
Valerie herself is a proud, practicing Catholic and comes from one of the best known, most prominent families in these parts, long prominent in the Catholic community.
Within hours of the Supreme Court decision that gave the legislature a choice between marriage equality versus civil unions, Valerie called me and said, without my asking, “I’m going to be for marriage for your community and whatever the reaction is, so be it – this is the right thing to do.”
Valerie was and continues to be a cosponsor of Reed Gusciora’s marriage equality bill. She voted for the civil unions bill when that was the only legislative vehicle on which to vote – a vote we agreed with under those circumstances.
Elsewhere, her letter reads like a manifesto of progressive and open-government passion.
I’m so thrilled that Loretta’s successor in the Assembly carries on Loretta’s grand tradition – even further perhaps – and that we have Loretta in the Senate as well.