Monday, November 30, 2009

"Black Day" For Marriage Equality in New Jersey

New Jersey's Star-Ledger isn't backing away from painting a bleak picture of marriage equality's prospects in the Garden State.

In a story issued today, they report that support for the marriage equality bill is plummeting, calling legislators "scared herd animals" who run from an issue even if only one of them get skittish.

"I can’t say I’m confident now," Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), a lead sponsor, told the Star-Ledger. "I think we still have a pretty good chance. But people are getting nervous and weak-kneed."

But this is all spin, says the story. Basically, the bill is dead.

"They’ve lost the momentum," says Sen. Kip Bateman, a Republican who once considered supporting the bill. "I don’t think it’s going to happen."

"So mark this as a black day for the cause of gay rights in New Jersey," reports the Star-Ledger. "Marriage equality was supposed to be the big prize, the final measure of respect, a sign that gay families were indeed equal under the law."


Despite valiant efforts from Garden State Equality, the state's largest LGBT advocacy group, the Catholic Church has flexed its mighty arm. They hold a lot of sway with the legislature since 40% of New Jersey is Catholic.

Not only did church leadership have its priests throughout the state give the same homily on the same Sunday against same-sex marriage, the bishops recently had their priests read and distribute a letter denouncing marriage equality and instructing parishioners to pray that the state legislature would not vote on the bill. 150,000 parishioners signed a petition in opposition.

New Jersey Bishop Letter Against Marriage Equality

(See a Catholic Church bulletin at Good As You)

On top of this, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has made its presence known in New Jersey for some time, recently launching an ad campaign against the marriage bill. Also, a turn in the polls against marriage equality, an about face from past support, has also shook up politicians as well as the ouster of pro-marriage equality Gov. Jon Corzine. Governor-elect Chris Christie is adamantly against LGBT rights.

The loss in Maine, a very secular state, also appears to be the death knell for many advances in marriage equality in other states.

When Senate president-elect Steve Sweeney indicated that the senate should focus on economic issues, despite the fact that the senate has no economic bills to consider, it was a signal to the rest to drop support.

"Politicians better realize the gay community is looking around and taking note as to who is supporting advancement of our equality and who is just saying one thing and doing another," Timothy Beauchamp of AmericaBlog writes. "It isn't a threat. It's a promise."

"Many of us in the progressive movement just want to throw up," says Steve Goldstein of Garden State Equality. "Democrats put out one hand out to ask for money, and with the other they stab you in the back."

ACTION: The door is not officially closed on the bill. Go to Garden State Equality and find out how you can help get the bill to the senate floor.

They have also announced a lobby day.

At the direct request of state legislators who support marriage equality, Garden State Equality and our organizational allies are doing another lobby day -- on Thursday, December 3rd in Trenton beginning at 8:00 am.

Thursday, December 3rd at 8:00 am, we'll meet at Garden State Equality's office at 110 West State Street in Trenton, across from the State House. From there we'll do a public march to the State House, where we'll have a hospitality room to serve free breakfast and then free lunch.

We're now at the tipping point of history: Every event we do must have unbelievable turnout, just like the previous lobby day that influenced legislators tremendously. That's why legislators have requested we do another. Please attend if you possibly can.

Forward this email to your family, friends and congregational and organizational colleagues, and to any blogs and list servs of which you are a member.

Questions? Contact Hannah Johnson, Garden State Equality's Field Director, at or cell (920) 222-1878.

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