Despite his opposition to putting Marriage Equality on the ballot in New Jersey, Garden State Equality director Steven Goldstein was quick to dispatch & support several lieutenants to key referendum states.
(Cherry Hill, NJ) — History was made on Election Day 2012 as pro-Equality voters pulled the lever for Marriage Equality in Maine, Maryland & Washington State. Minnesota residents iced the cake by refusing to enshrine inequality into their constitution (by voting down an anti-marriage amendment.)
It was a political clean sweep for The Gays. Said Chad Griffith of the Human Rights Campaign:
This is a huge deal. Not only did we just eliminate the anti-LGBT talking point that the public is against marriage equality – we re-elected President Obama, sent dozens of our heroes to Congress, put (out lesbian) Tammy Baldwin in the Senate, defended a judge in Iowa from a political hatchet job, and reinvigorated this movement. The victories were almost too many to count!
For us in New Jersey, it was heartening to watch progress play out nationally, built in no small part to those who went before (including NJ, an early pioneer of domestic partner recognition and later Civil Unions.)
Garden State Equality was at the helm, passing 200+ laws that protect NJ’s LGBT community, from anti-Bullying & non-discrimination in housing/employment to issues specific to the HIV/AIDS and Trans communities.
I’m a card-carrying GSE member and look forward to bringing Marriage Equality home by any means necessary: veto override, ballot referendum, court case, whatever. Until that happens wo of my activist pals, Trevor Powell and John Keating & I are keeping our skills sharp by “parachuting” into the action to make a difference on the ground elsewhere.
Which is what we did for this year. I volunteered in my home state of Maryland while John & Trevor headed to Maine (see pic) the to do the same.
Yes, Jay, you can go home again!
The role we played was a bit part of a larger effort which encompassed hundreds of players. For example: I covered three polling locales during Maryland’s early voting period. I choose the redneck-iest of Maryland’s deep south for two reasons: 1) no one else would and 2) it’s where I grew up. Early voting lasted four days in which time 11% of registered voters casted theirs.
Parachuting in means not having to rely on the centralized campaign apparatus to be effective. After all the battles we’ve waged back home, Garden State Equality members know how to get in the trenches. After initial contact with each camapaigns’ HQ, we found our niche and got to work.
And we won. Trevor Powell:
“I’m gratified for the opportunity to have helped make history in Maine through the resources and training provided through Garden State Equality. Just three years ago, voters in Maine narrowly overturned a marriage equality law passed by the legislature. To have been able to participate in correcting that error three years later through a hearts-and-minds campaign with voters was a redeeming experience.”
(I never told Trevor this but when Maine called touting victory I was a jealous because I wanted Maryland to be first to make history. So I had to act unflappably gracious when wanted to throw my iPhone across the room.)
In addition to years of campaign seasoning, Garden State Equality supported Trevor, John & me (tangibly) by covering our expenses in Maryland and Maine. Just yesterday check arrived with a note of thanks which said “We are so proud of you for all that you have done to represent Garden State Equality.”
To get such an affirming message was a surprise although it shouldn’t have been. After all, Garden State Equality played a role in every campaign I’ve worked on. to wit:
- during John Adler’s historic Congressional win in 2008, the entire GSE staff was on (paid) leave from their actual job to work for the Adler campaign for the week leading up to election day.
- In 2009, when (wildly unpopular) Jon Corzine ran for Governor, GSE volunteers populated our daily canvasses in Burlington and Passaic County.
- In 2010 Congressional leaders moved to strike anti-Transgender language from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and GSE organized a caravan of 100+ cars to Washington DC in solidarity with our Trans brother and sisters. We refused to water down the legislation.
Too many examples to cite but all good reasons to consider joining Garden State Equality if you haven’t already or even making a year-end contribution. After all, if you’re rich it’s tax write off otherwise shoot ‘em $10 or $20 bucks. Or volunteer!
Especially now that you know the sort of thing Garden State Equality does behind the scenes.