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Hi, Blue Jersey. Today I released a statement announcing my endorsement in the 9th Congressional District Democratic primary. Please read the first few paragraphs closely: This is my personal endorsement, not that of Garden State Equality, which is not endorsing in this primary. I recognize many of us have varying opinions on this race. I couldn’t be upset with you no matter whom you support in the primary — for me, no primary can change that — and I hope you can feel the same way in return. I appreciate it so much.
Steve Rothman for Congress
After much consideration, I am endorsing a candidate in the 9th Congressional District Democratic primary between Congress members Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell.
First, I must be clear: The organization I lead, Garden State Equality, has not endorsed, and will not be endorsing, in this primary. This is an endorsement by me alone. Garden State Equality prefers to make no endorsements in primaries between multiple candidates who are pro-equality and electorally viable. Our Executive Committee, which includes me, voted unanimously to affirm that policy in the Rothman-Pascrell race.
That is the right thing for Garden State Equality. Though Steve Rothman has been a champion of marriage equality for several years, a few months ago Bill Pascrell also endorsed marriage equality. Pushing an organizational endorsement in a primary between these two incumbents, each of whom has supporters in our organization, would have been an unnecessary slight to our members whose candidate were not being endorsed. Our respect for one another is a reason why Garden State Equality has grown so large yet stayed so united.
Our Executive Committee underscored that members of the organization are feel free to endorse in an individual capacity. Several members have announced their respective endorsements. Now I’d like to.
I endorse Steve Rothman because he has been a true leader on marriage equality. I endorse Steve Rothman because I trust him with my civil rights life.
When considering two good and decent public servants who both favor marriage equality, I ask myself which candidate has been a leader for, and not just a supporter of, the cause. I disagree that where candidates now share similar stances on a particular issue, it means their commitment is equal and that the issue should be taken off the table. You shouldn’t buy that either. This year, we saw in Trenton the importance of leadership. If the Democratic leaders of our legislature were not the true leaders on marriage equality that they’ve been – but rather, were mere supporters who simply cast the correct votes – we would not have passed the marriage equality bill through both houses.
For years Steve Rothman has nagged me with phone calls – regularly, personally, completely on his own – offering to help us win marriage equality in New Jersey. Steve Rothman has gone miles beyond merely voting the correct way or signing letters of support when asked.
That’s what matters to me – far more than what candidates say or do during the campaign season. Having worked up close and personally with a number of our elected officials, I have been fortunate to get to know them beyond campaign packaging. What did they do for the cause in the years before the theatrics of the current campaign?
In this primary, Steve Rothman stands alone in the extraordinary degree to which he has advocated marriage equality behind the scenes. In this primary, Steve Rothman is the only candidate who is a member of Garden State Equality’s Equality Hall of Fame. The organization inducted him at its 2009 Legends Dinner, where he was the keynote speaker.
If you noticed Steve Rothman’s recent television commercial – likely the first commercial in American history by a sitting member of Congress to trumpet his or her support for marriage equality – you’ll understand, in the context of Steve’s passionate commitment over the years, that the commercial was no mere campaign tactic. Our cause permeates Steve Rothman’s heart and soul.
To be sure, I don’t hold it against Bill Pascrell that he has said some harsh things about marriage equality. He favors marriage equality now. We must embrace every public official who comes our way, no matter the timing. That’s part of building winning coalitions.
But in making an endorsement, I care if there has been a real difference in advocacy separating two good public servants. That Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell both support marriage equality now is great, but Steve Rothman has gone further for the cause, hands down.
And I care when my colleague in activism, Barbra Casbar Siperstein, reports that when she and other transgender leaders went to Capitol Hill to meet with members of our Congressional delegation, Steve Rothman was the one Congressman in this primary who met them personally.
In the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 5th, I proudly support Congressman Steve Rothman.