Gay Marriage in N.J.: Which Side of History Will You Be On?

(Originally posted in the New Jersey Star-Ledger.)

As our state legislature gears up to vote on marriage equality in the lame-duck session, we have one question for lawmakers: Which side of history do you want to be on?

A state commission last year found that gay and lesbian families suffer because civil unions are not equal to marriages. Many people in the state fail to understand that civil unions do not keep the promise to same-sex couples that their rights will be the same as married couples in areas like health care, taxes, retirement and of course social recognition. Every aspect of life is affected.

Recent polls — including a 2009 Gannett-Monmouth University poll — show that more New Jerseyans support same-sex marriage than oppose it. Each day, more people throughout America believe in marriage equality. Young Americans increasingly accept gay people and support their rights, including the right to unite in marriage.

Struggles for civil rights, including the ACLU's 1967 fight for interracial marriage in Loving vs. Virginia, inevitably end on the side of securing rights rather than restricting them. Marriage equality is inevitable. The question is whether New Jersey legislators will live up to our nation's vision of equality and justice by recognizing gay families or turn their backs on progress as well as fairness.

The level of support for marriage equality in New Jersey ensures that legislators will not pay a political price for embracing equality. Indeed, opposition will put them in the company of people like George Wallace and William Fulbright, who lived to regret, and reverse, their opposition to laws ensuring racial equality. Strom Thurmond signed the Southern Manifesto opposing school desegregation, as did Fulbright, and filibustered for a full 24 hours to stop the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Despite his lifelong track record of racism, Thurmond later voted to extend the Voting Rights Act and to create a holiday in celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday.

If history's lessons and today's polls aren't enough to convince fence-sitting legislators, they need not look further than New Jersey's largest city to see gains in public acceptance. Despite a perception that African-American communities balk at gay rights and marriage equality, Newark's Mayor Cory Booker has become one of our state's most vocal advocates for equal rights and creating an environment that has allowed diversity to flourish.

At City Hall, Booker raises a pride flag in June and performs civil unions on Valentine's Day. But more substantively, he recently formed a commission to advise him on issues in the lesbian and gay community, and he helped pave the way for an after-school program that will serve as a safe harbor for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

He has not experienced political backlash. He has instead earned the respect and support of New Jerseyans across political parties and communities, because gay couples and their loved ones vote, pay taxes and contribute to the economy, and they favor the officials who favor their rights.

After an eight-year debate and an inadequate civil union compromise, the time has come for marriage equality in New Jersey. Marriage equality offers benefits to all New Jerseyans, and not only the benefits of social equality — it benefits our state's bottom line. Same-sex marriage would result in immediate cash flow in a state with a balance sheet billions of dollars in the red. Gay couples would flock to New Jersey to celebrate their marriages in beautiful shore towns and mountain vistas. They would move to New Jersey, bringing their tax dollars and brainpower with them.

Our legislators must consider what they want to tell their grandchildren — that they sided with human rights and dignity for families, or that they sided with discrimination, disenfranchisement and denial of essential rights. If history is any indicator, the future is clear — the legislators who vote for marriage will look back with pride because they moved our state forward. The ones who vote against it will be remembered as latter-day Strom Thurmonds, who fostered injustice instead of equal rights. Lawmakers shouldn't vote in the spirit of a prejudiced past, they should vote with history for a future of equality. Take Action: Tell New Jersey's legislators they can be on the right side of history by supporting the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.

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Yall are sick!!!


I am SO sick of society, historians, and various people comparing homosexuality to being a black american. Gay is NOT the "new" Black. There is NOTHING new about being Black! People of color cannot CHANGE their race unlike Gays who can change their sexual parts. Gays may not be able to choose their sexuality but they can certainly choose to NOT participate in a Gay lifestyle. Blacks cannot refuse to participate in being black.

Move one with that argument please!


Wrong, the people do NOT want gay marriage. Here's the proof. 31 states have put it to a vote. All 31 states have rejected it including the bluest of blue states that are very liberal like Maine and California. This is liberal perversion being shoved down our throats.


This is an excellent article. It's time for the legislature to act. Civil unions do not work. I'm looking forward to the day when equality is a reality in New Jersey.


The reason they didn't include full right s in the union is so that we would have this issue. The state wants us to fight about this so we ignore the important issues and the actualt hings that are taking place and passing before our eyes. Gay Marriage is an oxymoron. AND if it's about being fair.. how is it fair for a Pastor who has the right to not believe in gay marriage to be thrown in jail or sued out of his church on discrimination charges if he wishes not to participate.. how is that fair? so let them do what they wilt' but where is the protection for those of us who do not agree with it and agree with the Bible that it is an abomianation that causes desolation! I know from experience...Can't knock my testimony!!! I know gay is the wrong word for the lifestyle.. try me!


Everyone who has commented is a bunch of idiots who needs to learn that there is no such thing as gay is simply what you are as is what you might be born with. It's not a conditioning system. As a gay male myself, I do not participate in pride events or go to bars/ clubs nor am promiscuous but to y'all who are so closed minded I pity you. More of my straight friends sleep around and are ill prepared to raise children but you raise no objection to that which is sad. Spend your money feeding the homeless then fighting what the government defines as marriage. It should only matter to you, what your personal definition is.


"Gay" and "Marriage".


I hear many times, "Why block gay marriage when there are so many straight marriages which aren't taken seriously?"
I agree with you! There are so many marriages between man and woman which aren't worthy of the title! That make a mockery of the sanctity that is marriage! The solution however, is NOT to desanctify is even more so which is the result you get if you extend it to gay couples!

Why is it that despite so many states voting against it, it is still trying to be shoved down their throats? What sort of democracy is that?

It's the "Leftist's Democracy" and it is one where Democracy only applies where it suits the left.

Well I'm sorry, but it doesn't work like that. Move on gay marriage advocates, find something else to waste your lives doing.


If the following is true as stated earlier: state commission last year found that gay and lesbian families suffer because civil unions are not equal to marriages. Many people in the state fail to understand that civil unions do not keep the promise to same-sex couples that their rights will be the same as married couples in areas like health care, taxes, retirement ......then there is a simple solution: The union of two people be it marriage (a religious union) or civil union.....they do not have more rights than a single person! Be careful what battles you may lose more than you planned. From: A married person who judges people on their merit of kindness towards others and commitment to family, not on their religious beliefs or sexual preferance.


In the beginning of the Bible its Adam and man one woman. All of those that believe that you are born "Gay" needs to read the bible and realized it's not true. I am a christian and will not bash anyone because we have to love everyone "but" I will "not" accept gay marriage. Do you want to stand before God and try to convince him you are gay? Please before it's to late realize God is the answer.


I am a proud gay bi-racial, atheist American that has experienced much strife, discrimination and hardship because of who I am. I could sit here and go on how homosexuality has been proven to be epigenetic (influence by both our genes and our environment), or how America is the land of not only opportunity but equality, so to deny one right's because of who they are is totally ludicrous. But in terms of marriage I believe gay marriage is wrong, or should I say religious institutions should not be forced to perform same sex marriages. Marriage has always been an institution that ensures the reproduction of our species. It has always been between a man and a women and I'm sure this trend will continue. However, when speaking of tradition we settle into murky waters. Tradition would also say if a woman has sex while on her period she is to be stoned to death, but I digress. In this retrospect those who are infertile should not be able to marry. But I want to make it a step further. Marriage is a religious institution, period! And as we know, there exists a wall between church and state; though that wall seems to be transparent. So to keep with this separation of church and state and keeping things secular, I propose we abolish all marriages and convert them into civil unions. That way, anyone one who wishes to enter into an institution with all the same benefits that marriage offered will have that opportunity. And if anyone wants to be married by a priest or rabbi, they can do so but in the eyes of the law they will be entering into a civil union. As time progresses, so does our societies trends, traditions, and morality. We have made great strides in many areas, but still have a long road ahead, especially involving equality; i.e. women, minorities, and homosexuals. Maybe one day religious institutions will acknowledge homosexuals as not only equals but deserving of having the right to marry one another in front of their god and congregation. But history and current class consciousness says that will be along road ahead, but it is one I will definitely be travelling!


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