Tag Archive: GSE

LIVE from Jersey City Courthouse

While Mayors and clerks around the state are readying plans to marry same-sex couples as soon as  Sunday/Monday midnight, uncertainty reigns as to whether the law allows it. So, as one half of one of the couples seeking to marry at the earliest moment possible, I’m at the courthouse in Jersey City, where my friend, Mayor Steve Fulop had just filed an Order to Show Cause and Complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that applications can be received, that the wait time can be waived, and that marriages can happen beginning October 21st, as ordered by Judge Jacobson.

Earlier this morning, at City Hall, Mayor Fulop was officiating at a (straight) wedding downstairs, while the paperwork was being prepared upstairs. If all goes well, he’ll be officiating at mine, in less than 72 hours.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Veto Equality

If you’re on Facebook, you’re probably being inundated with all things Papal this morning. And, if you follow news of Facebook, you’re probably aware that Mark Zuckerberg is hosting a fundraiser for Governor Christie this week in California.

Both Zuckerberg and Facebook have made major strides in the past few years, turning the world’s largest social network into a more open and inclusive place for the LGBT community. But guess what? Friends Don’t Let Friends Veto Equality. That’s why, at 1p today, @GSEquality, @BlueJersey, @DFAaction and allies and friends are kicking off a Twitter Bomb using the Twitter hashtag #UnfriendChristie to let Mark Zuckerberg know that’s not how friends treat each other.

That’s right, the young, hip, tech-savvy billionaire – who famously, publicly married his wife just last year – is raising money for our anti-equality and anti-(you fill in the blank) governor at his Silicon Valley home on Wednesday.

So, how would you like to take a break from news about the Pope to let the Facebook founder know how you feel about his raising money this week for the man who is single-handedly blocking New Jersey from granting me and thousands of others the same freedom to marry he enjoys? The same governor about whose record no progressive – in New Jersey or California should remain silent.

Earlier this month when the news first broke – there was some great pushback against Zuckerberg on Twitter (where #UnfriendChristie briefly trended), on Facebook (where Garden State Equality received historic traffic), in the traditional media (this sweet Wall St. Journal article, and among politicians, with lots of buzz on the Chamber Train Trip. But this week, with the event scheduled for Wednesday, should be even bigger.

And there will be more actions to come all week, leading up to this Saturday’s anniversary of Governor Christie’s veto of marriage equality. But, at 1p today, I hope you’ll join @BlueJersey and friends in a Twitter Bomb using the hashtag #UnfriendChristie to let Mark Zuckerberg know: Friends Don’t Let Friends Veto Equality.

Still a Big NO on Marriage Referendum

In February of this year, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora testified in support of New Jersey’s marriage equality bill, and passionately against the idea of conducting a referendum instead. He noted our nation’s proud history of “safeguarding against popular will over the rights of minorities,” and pointing to the acrimony, name-calling and divisive tone that permeated Trenton that week in the debate over the issue, Gusciora put it to his colleagues this way:

“imagine what will happen during a ballot question of this type. There will be more divisiveness in this state, more acrimony, and it will be a race to see who could shout the loudest.”

This month, Gusciora switched gears, and is now championing Gov. Christie’s marriage referendum proposal. Others have joined him. The sole reason anyone seems to be able to point to for reconsidering is the outcomes on ballot questions around the country in November. But, those outcomes are neither instructive nor predictive of what would happen in NJ in 2013. More importantly, unless the opposition to a referendum back in February was nothing more than a bunch of excuses for fear of losing, none of the real reasons for opposing a referendum in NJ has actually changed.

For me (and thankfully, for the Democratic leadership in the Senate and Assembly), it’s still a non-starter.

Reed Gusciora Goes Rogue on ME Referendum

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora is breaking with prominent GLBT advocates on the strategy to bring marriage equity to New Jersey:

New Jersey openly gay Assemblyman Reed Gusciora has always been the last person to advocate bringing civil rights to a vote. The Democratic lawmaker spearheaded a marriage equality bill in the New Jersey legislature earlier this year that passed but which GOP Gov. Chris Christie vetoed while urging activists to have it voted on by the people of New Jersey. When Gusciora criticized that approach, and lambasted Christie for controversially suggesting the issue of civil rights should have been put up for a vote in the South in the 1960s, Christie famously called him a “numbnuts.”

But now, frustrated that the Democratic leadership in the state legislature has not scheduled a veto override vote, as promised, and emboldened by polls that show a majority of New Jersey voters support marriage equality, Gusciora believes New Jersey voters should vote on the issue. And, confident after wins in Maine, Maryland and Washington state on marriage equality at the ballot, he has introduced a bill to put it on the ballot.


Gusciora accuses Democratic leaders, as well as Garden State Equality and the national gay groups, of playing politics with gay rights and pushing the issue off, including scheduling a vote to override Christie’s veto, until the fall, when the issue can be used in election campaigns against Republicans.

“There is no strategy,” he said in an interview on my SiriusXM OUtQ radio program this week. “The Human Rights [Campaign], the national groups, they need to talk to other gays in the state instead of one person, who everyone seems to talk about [Steven Goldstein, at Garden State Equality]. They’re not even talking to legislators. It’s short-sighted not to talk to openly gay legislators in the state. I don’t think [Goldstein] needs to criticize anyone with a contrarian opinion. We should do all of the above: We should post it for an override, which has little chance. We should continue with efforts in the courts. We should think about reintroducing it in the legislature. We should do all of the above, including a ballot measure.” [emphasis mine]

Hard to get more provocative than that. What are your thoughts?

Marriage Equality Now!

The Senate Judiciary Committee is meeting today to hear testimony from opposing sides on the question of whether to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples by way of the Marriage Equality Act. Deja Vu. This time around, it appears that Democrats will be almost universally on the side of equal rights. (Yey!)

But, the big question, today and throughout this year’s debates in the Senate and the Assembly, will be: where are the Republicans? Here’s hoping enough Republicans will join us on the right side of this issue, the right side of history, and the right side of their own friends and family members – sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren – who are aching for equality.

Because, as I said two years ago, “We’re never ever going away. We’ll be back year after year, year after year, until we are treated as equals.” And today, we’re back. So, I say to Governor Christie and legislators, Republican and Democratic:  Let’s put an end to this. Let’s treat all New Jerseyans with the dignity and respect they deserve. Make marriage equality the law of the state. And do it now. You have the power.:

(Video courtesy of my fellow discriminatee, Jay Lassiter, with an assist from our friend, Lori Braunstein, who is a wizard at this kind of thing. Thanks Jay and Lori!)

Civil Rights should not be decided by a Referendum. Period.

The Star Ledger, typically a friendly voice on the subject of marriage equality, went off the rails today in an editorial suggesting the state consider a referendum on “Gay Marriage.” I could not disagree more.

As an initial matter, I wish once and for all that educated people would stop referring to the issue of marriage equality as the right to “gay marriage.” They may as well call it “schmarriage” (as some have). There is no such thing as a right to “Italian marriage” or “Black marriage” or “Hindu marriage” or “Second marriage” – and, it’s insulting in 2012 for the Star Ledger to still be framing the issue that way. Same-sex couples are not seeking a special right to engage in some subset of actual marriage – we are seeking equality in the freedom to marry our partners and have those marriages recognized by the state, no more and no less. Labels matter.

Sen. Menendez Comes Out Strong for Marriage Equality

In a powerful op-ed in favor of marriage equality, which appeared in yesterday’s Star Ledger, Sen. Bob Menendez pledged his support for the Federal Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). And in doing so, Sen. Menendez spoke in no uncertain terms about the injustice that continues to face same-sex couples who wish to marry in New Jersey and elsewhere:

[F]or me, this comes down to an issue of fundamental fairness. For me, this comes down to the principles I learned as the child of immigrants and that I cherish as an American: that we believe in equality for all people under the law.

Perhaps what is most compelling is the fact, which Sen. Menendez acknowledges in his op-ed, that he voted 15 years ago for DOMA, along with an overwhelming number of his colleagues. But following that vote, the Senator notes: “like tens of millions of Americans, [he has] reflected deeply and frequently about this issue.” That is what has been happening in America, at kitchen tables, holiday meals, community events, and more. And it is something to be applauded. That’s how progress happens.

Menendez became the 32nd U.S. Senator to publicly announce support for the bill, which is also sponsored by 134 members of the House. Indeed, in New Jersey, support from our Democratic Congressional delegation is nearly unanimous. Yet, despite those solid and growing numbers, support for the bill here (and nationally) continues, regrettably, to be primarily from the Democratic side of the aisle.

That’s a shame.  

Transgender Day of Remembrance Virtual Town Hall – 1pm


Today, Sunday Nov. 20, is the annual international Transgender Day of Remembrance. We just got word that Garden State Equality will observe the day with a virtual town hall meeting on its Facebook page.

Garden State Equality on Facebook

Around the world, organizations are participating in events of all kinds to remember transgender sisters and brothers murdered because of their gender identity or expression. Transgender Day of Remembrance will be observed at Princeton University Chapel, and GSE’s facebook page will carry a live post from there in real-time.

We have transgender people in our readership, and among our friends and neighbors. I encourage you to stop in to GSE’s Facebook page and participate if you can, and leave a message of of friendship.  

Where GSE gets it wrong: thoughts on Viki Knox, part I

Note: Since I wrote this diary, reports have surfaced that Viki Knox indeed brought her views into the classroom on several occasions, likely violating the district policies and state law in the process. Worse, she violated a student’s First Amendment rights by kicking the student out of class for wearing a rainbow bracelet.

Viki Knox’s illegal conduct in the classroom raises substantial doubts about her fitness as a teacher. She ought to be fired. At the very least, she should be suspended for a prolonged period of time and must not set foot in another classroom until she understands that she needs to set her personal views aside and follow the laws of New Jersey, the policies of her school district, and the instructions of her superiors.

October, as many Blue Jersey readers know, is LGBT history month. To commemorate the occassion, Union Township High School set up a photo display featuring several famous gay and lesbian celebrities and historical figures.

Yet, this evening, Garden State Equality has organized dozens to protest a meeting of the Union Public School District Board of Education. GSE is not satisfied with school’s affirming message to gay and lesbian students. It wants the district to fire a schoolteacher who responded to the display with homophobic Facebook posts of the sort that one would expect from, say, the Westboro Baptist Church.

Make no mistake, Union Township High School special education teacher Viki Knox’s comments were reprehensible; Ms. Knox calls homosexuality a “perverted spirit” and compares it to cancer and alcoholism. But there are at least two problems with Garden State Equality’s impulsive response to these posts. First, in its hasty reaction to the teacher’s posts, the organization stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the competing values at stake. Second, GSE is doing a disservice to gay and lesbian students at Union Townshsip High School and across the state by passing up more effective responses to this controversy.

The First Amendment gives Viki Knox the right to express her opinions, asinine and offensive as they may be. As I will show below the fold, whether the school district may fire or otherwise discipline her is a close question that will probably turn on facts to be uncovered by investigation.

Who’s Walking for Equality on Saturday?

GSE Equality Walk

In just two days – this Saturday, September 24th at 5:00 p.m. – Team Blue Jersey is going to take a walk with a bunch of our friends to raise money for marriage equality. There’s still time to join us!

We’re taking part in Equality Walk 2011 – Garden State Equality’s low-dollar per person fundraiser that allows everyone to participate – there’s no required minimum amount for you to raise. And, the beauty of this grassroots approach is that small contributions really add up. Take Team Blue Jersey for example – we set a modest goal of raising $500, and quickly surpassed it. Then we bumped it to $750, and passed it. Then $1,000, … check.

In fact, thanks to the efforts of Blue Jersey readers and friends, we’re closing in on being one of GSE’s Top 5 Fundraising teams for the event! So now, we need your help to get to Team Blue Jersey‘s new goal of reaching $1,500 for Garden State Equality’s 2011 Equality Walk by the time the walk kicks off Saturday at 5pm. So we’ve got 48 Hours left. Let’s do it!

And even if you can’t join us on Saturday, you can help by joining our team and raising money, or by just contributing directly to Team Blue Jersey. Thank you all, and hope to see you Saturday! 🙂