As you’ve read on Blue Jersey and in today’s Star-Ledger, see article below, Mayor Gina Genovese announced her candidacy last night at Garden State Equality’s 2007 Legends Dinner.
This race will be a major priority for progressives, straight and LGBTI alike, for four reasons:
1. Tom Kean, Jr.
2. Gina herself. Besides running against Kean Jr., she’s one of the most extraordinarily talented officials in our state, a Democrat elected mayor of a staunchly Republican town who has an amazing ability to bring people together.
3. The state Senate is only 22-18 Democratic. We need this turnover.
4. Yes, Gina is a heck of a lot more than a gay candidate – but in a state where we didn’t have an openly gay legislator until a few months ago, it’s about time our state legislature was as diverse as its people.
Here’s today’s Ledger article:
Long Hill mayor will challenge state Sen. Kean for seat in fall
Genovese is town’s first openly gay official
Monday, March 05, 2007
BY DEBORAH HOWLETT
Long Hill Township’s first openly gay mayor, Gina Genovese, said last night she will challenge state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. in November.
Genovese, a Democrat, made her announcement to run against Kean, a Union County Republican who lost his bid last year for a U.S. Senate seat, at a Garden State Equality dinner at Maplewood Country Club.
“This past November we understood how important it is who we send down to Washington,” Genovese said to a standing ovation. “This November we have to understand it is equally important who we send down to Trenton.”
Genovese stepped down as Long Hill mayor in January but re mains on the Morris County township committee. She has owned a tennis-instruction center in Berkeley Heights, Union County, for 25 years.
It was her small-business background, she said, that got her interested in politics. Gov. Jon Corzine’s business perspective also makes working in the Legislature appealing, she said.
Garden State Equality’s “2007 Legends” dinner last night honored 12 people the activist organization considers legends in the fight for gay rights, including former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, former U.S. Ambassador James Hormel and Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the only presidential candidate to support legal marriage for same-sex couples.
Steven Goldstein, the founder of Garden State Equality, told the crowd of 400 that while the state last month enacted a civil union law that gives same-sex couples all the legal rights of marriage, it is not enough. The nearly 3-year-old organization, which has pushed state and local governments to adopt 153 civil rights laws, will fight to make same-sex marriage legal in New Jersey within the next two years.
Goldstein said the group has fielded a dozen complaints in the few weeks since civil unions be came law, noting they’re not being honored by employers or insurers because they are not “marriage.”
“Marriage is the only currency of commitment recognized in the real world,” Goldstein said. “We’re fighting for the word ‘marriage,’ that nomenclature, because it’s the only ticket to real equality that the world will accept.”
Gov. Jon Corzine has said he will sign a gay marriage bill if one reaches his desk.
The dinner was highlighted by an appearance by Kucinich, who ran in 2004 and is running again in 2008 in support of gay activists’ agenda. He called the “evolution” of gay rights “an imperative of this moment.”
“The capacity to live out our own dreams, to be better than we are, is happening because of organizations like Garden State Equality,” Kucinich said.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker introduced City Councilwoman Dana Rone, one of the award winners. He referred to Rone, the only openly gay member of the council, as a “hero to the city.”
Goldstein said Garden State Equality didn’t even exist 32 months ago and then listed some of its accomplishments, including domestic-partner benefit laws in state and local governments; a fight for Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office investigator Laurel Hes ter’s partner to receive her pension benefits after Hester’s death; and most recently, the enactment of civil union legislation.
“You know, New Yorkers always blame New Jersey for all the (bad) smells, but New Jersey’s passed 153 new civil rights laws,” Goldstein said. “That smell coming from New Jersey is called equality, and it’s the sweetest smell.”