Category Archives: New Jersey

Oscars, The L-Word, and LGBT Equality

Honolulu, HI–Being blessed by being in the middle of the Pacific, I could at an early hour channel surf between the glitz of the 80th Annual Oscars and The L-Word where Captain Tasha Williams, a decorated Iraq veteran, was getting drummed out of the military for homosexual conduct.

I kept hoping that in my ADD surfing behavior I wouldn’t miss the by-now-expected “gay moment” on the Oscars. Fortunately, I didn’t and the moment was a triumph for all of us struggling for LGBT civil rights.

In the midst of the Oscar’s garish sets, the wonders of technology allowed us to be transported to the desert in Iraq. There male and female military personnel, in the only costumes they get to wear, desert camouflague fatigues, presented the nominees for Best Short Documentary.

For me the irony sizzled. One nominee, Sari’s Mother, shows how the US has thrown the Iraqi medical system into disarray. Another, Freeheld, demonstrates that the freedom and liberty that some LGBT citizens fight for abroad are not theirs at home. And the Oscar went to Freeheld!

Freeheld tells the brave story of the final months of a New Jersey police officer’s fight with cancer and with the elected Board of Freeholders that governs Ocean County, NJ. Garden State Equality, especially the ever resourceful and impassioned Steve Goldstein, plays a crucial role in the poignant struggle of Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s battle for her domestic partner Stacie Andree’s right to her pension benefits and financial security. Lieutenant Hester and Garden State Equality are the heroes of this wrenching saga.

I was stunned by the film’s power when I saw it last spring at the Boston Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and not surprised at all when it walked away with a Boston festival prize, a Sundance, and now an Oscar.

The L-Word’s fictional Captain Williams fighting a military court and the real Lieutenant Hester struggling for justice throw into sharp relief the discrimination LGBT people suffer and the bravery of those who will not accept it. Military and police officers put themselves in harm’s way for our safety. Injustice seems all the more ironic in the denial of their equality.

NJ Civil Unions vs. MA Gay Marriage

Well it took another commission in yet another state to make clear that civil unions are not marriages and thus do not give all the rights, benefits, and privileges of marriage. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer which obtained an early copy of the findings of the NJ Civil Union Review Commission, civil unions in the Garden State have been a failure.

Steven Goldstein who chairs Garden State Equality and who also co-chairs the Civil Union Review Commission had harsh words for the civil unions law saying that it “segegates, discriminates and humiliates the very people it is supposed to protect.”

Members of the New Jersey LGBT community have voted with their feet. As of mid-January only 2, 329 couples have walked into their municipal offices and applied for a civil union license. Despite the posturing of what’s left of the Democratic presidential candidates that civil unions are “as good as” marriages, folks in NJ just do not believe it.

Commission hearings took testimony from 96 people, among them Lynn Fontaine Newsome, president of the NJ State Bar Association, who called NJ civil unions “a failed experiment.”

The findings cite Massachusetts as the only state that has provided LGBT relationship equality. Everyone knows what marriage is. Folks in VT, CT, NJ, and now NH are still trying to figure out what civil unions are. While that is happening, LGBT people are being discriminated against–even though they are in civil unions that are meant to protect them. Or perhaps the civil unions are just meant to give LGBT people a crumb and placate marriage equality opponents.

Massachusetts, with 10,000 same-sex couples married, offers a legitimate object lesson to those who want to study relationship equality in a fair and open-minded way

Poll in NJ Shows Huge support for Gay Marriage

Is it a surprise to anyone that the NJ  poll conducted between Aug. 8-10 shows twice as much support for gay marriage as there is opposition? 63% favor same-sex marriage.  And just to quell the timid hearts of legislators, 72% of those polled (that’s 9% more than are in favor of marriages over civil unions) also said that taking a position in favor of gay marriage would not jeopardize the election of any legislators in the next election. So why would any legislators hold back? More