Garden State Equality, ACLU-NJ Team Up for United for Marriage Campaign

By Lauren Wanko
NJ Today

Same-sex marriage supporters are calling it an unprecedented campaign in New Jersey and throughout the country. This morning in Asbury Park, Garden State Equality and the ACLU of New Jersey along with five national partners launched New Jersey United for Marriage.

“Today New Jerseyans and Americans across the political spectrums, Republicans and Democrats alike, across the religious spectrum, came together to recognize that New Jersey is at the epicenter of the next big fight for marriage equality and that we are here and that we are committed to bringing equality to the state,” said Udi Ofer, executive director of ACLU-NJ.

“As other states who have achieved marriage equality have proven, it takes a coalition,” said Jay Lassiter, of Garden State Equality.

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a gay marriage bill last year, insisting the issue should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide.

“My message to Gov. Christie is I wish you hadn’t vetoed this legislation and we plan to override that veto,” said Garden State Equality Executive Director Troy Stevenson.

“So Jan. 14 is the deadline until which the New Jersey legislature can override Gov. Christie’s veto. So that’s our deadline for this legislative session. So the override can happen anytime between today and Jan. 14, 2014,” Ofer said.

“I do not believe that the Senate President and I will address marriage equality during the months of August/September, but I do know that the Senate president and I have had discussion about focusing in lame duck on trying to get some of our colleagues from the other side of the aisle to join with us to override the governor’s veto,” Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said.

Last month the Supreme Court struck down DOMA — the Defense of Marriage Act. Gay advocates say the ruling gave them even more motivation to fight for marriage equality.

“When DOMA went down, there were 1,138 federal rights and provisions that are allowed to same-sex couples in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Unfortunately, civil unions aren’t good enough. Those federal rights will not go to civil union couples in New Jersey,” Stevenson said.

The event brought together religious leaders, politicians and moms.

“New Jersey’s a progressive state and we should have marriage equality so I want to be part of this and I’m gonna be pushing for it over the next few months,” said Congressman Frank Pallone.

“I have three other children, all married. They’re all happy and I want her to be happy and be married,” said LGBT advocate Ann Peterpaul.

Meantime, members of the United for Marriage campaign vow to travel the state, from Sussex to Cape May counties to hold public forums and meet with lawmakers from both parties to ensure their message is heard loud and clear.