Tag Archive: lgbt rights

Senator Fred Madden: the WORST Democrat in Trenton

Does the name Fred Madden ring a bell? Probably not. He’s a backbencher politician who represents the part of New Jersey that hardly anyone lives is. And judging from his voting record he’s a right wing tool.

For example:

  • He voted against gay marriage equality.
  • He voted to keep the death penalty on the books.
  • He’s a member of the NRA-sponsored “”Hunter Caucus.”
  • And yesterday he voted against the bill to curb HIV rates (and charity care costs) by giving IV drug users over-the-counter access to clean syringes.

    Fred Madden was elected in 2004 to the NJ State Senate as a Democrat by spending a record 4.2 million dollars on his campaign. Now we all know you don’t get $4.2m in your warchest without being someone’s handmaiden.

    It’s just a pity that Senator Madden’s special someone is not a Democrat.

  • Tyler Clementi and the Fight for Civil Rights

    Rush Holt attended last night’s forum on the Rutgers campus in the wake of Tyler Clementi’s suicide. The Trevor Project Lifeline and other help numbers are listed after the jump, if you know somebody who might like to have them.  – promoted by Rosi

    The fight for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals is the next front in America’s struggle for civil rights.

    The milestones of America’s progress have marked fights for equal rights, liberty, and justice for all.  The enduring struggle – to grant women the right to vote, to end Jim Crow, to provide opportunity and accessibility to individuals with disabilities – helps define who we are as a nation.

    The tragedy of Tyler Clementi’s death – like the suicides of three other teens in three other states whose deaths reportedly are linked to anti-gay bullying and abuse – is part of that struggle.

    Reflections from the Overflow Room

    There was a little bit of nutty happening over there in the hearing room yesterday. No worries, babies. Go for marriage equality. Because on that other thing? that free speech thing? I’m here to tell ya, ACLU-NJ’s got your back. – – promoted by Rosi

    The vast majority of those testifying at last nights Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on marriage equality told moving stories of love, family and justice. We heard from families who had overcome harrowing obstacles and given back to society in humbling ways, children holding out hope that their parents would be allowed to marry each other like their friends’ families, and some 50 clergy who wanted to marry their congregants.  

    In testimony from the other side, although the topic was marriage equality, free speech seemed to play the part of star witness.

    One Hasidic rabbi – of whom there were many – voiced particular concern that he would be legally barred from condemning same-sex marriage in his synagogue.

    Huh? As an authority on the First Amendment, be assured that you can still slam same-sex marriage all you want at temple.

    After the rabbis took the stage, John Tomicki of the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage (which represents, as far as I can tell, no one) somehow wound his argument to say that allowing marriage equality infringed upon his religious freedom rights and therefore his right to religious expression. He then asked the senators if they would represent him if he preached his beliefs on the street corner.

    Hey, over here, in the overflow room, the ACLU will represent you. Free speech in public places is one of our specialties. Just give us a call (no need to meet in person).

    And finally, I spoke with a guy from Knights of Columbus (to his wife’s terror) who was dead sure that marriage equality would result in dramatic free speech infringements. “Just look at what happened in Canada,” he told me five or six times.

    What happened in Canada? Nothing as far as I know. But anyway, we don’t live in Canada.

    And we have a really strong First Amendment; Canada doesn’t.

    The spirit of Rick Santorum hovered in the room as opponents let loose their far-fetched fears that marriage between gay couples would lead to polygamy, underage marriage and, if I heard right, bestiality.

    Our country has seen steady progress over the past few decades in wiping out homophobia. We’ve learned that marriage in Massachusetts hasn’t brought society to a halt. Our culture has become familiar with images of gay couples raising families and living ordinary lives. Our opponents have but one thing to cling to: scare tactics. It makes you realize how scared they must be, when they’re swinging desperately in the committee hearing room. (Unfortunately, confronting those irrational fears will be an ongoing project for our side).

    The absurdity of the opposition’s arguments in yesterday’s committee room made me realize that even though this fight is far from over, it’s fundamentally over. We win. It’s only a matter of time before we have marriage equality in this country, in every state.

    How soon it happens depends on how smart and strategic we can be. It’s a question of whether we can put aside our differences to have honest conversations about our beliefs and our lives. How patient will we be in bringing people along? How impatient will we be to get equal rights? How committed are we to working together and keeping the flame alive? The country, as we’ve seen in a handful of different states this year, still hasn’t figured out what the right answers to those questions are.

    I recently heard the folk singer Ferron say something like, “Society can only move forward as fast as the slowest person, so you might as well get to the back of the line and try to help push it along.”

    Based on yesterday’s testimony, which was delivered by overwhelmingly by smart, inspiring, amazing human beings standing for their rights, and which included some eloquent truths from Senators Weinberg, Gill and Baroni, the good news is that most people are up here with us. The bad news is too many others are straggling behind.