The Democratic nominee for governor, Phil Murphy, picked up an endorsement from the state’s largest gay rights organization on Wednesday and vowed to sign bills helping the gay and transgender community if elected.
Garden State Equality announced its endorsement of Murphy, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany under President Barack Obama, at a news conference on the Asbury Park boardwalk. The group’s executive director, Christian Fuscarino, said Murphy would be an important LGBT ally and cited Murphy’s time as a NAACP board member.
“Phil’s support for the LGBT community isn’t something that needed to evolve,” Fuscarino said. “It speaks a lot about someone’s character when you have a history of standing up for people even when it doesn’t affect you. That’s the type of person Phil Murphy is.”
Murphy said he would sign a bill that Gov. Chris Christie vetoed in 2015 that would allow transgender residents to change the gender on their birth certificates. Murphy also pledged support for other measures, including providing capital to LGBT-owned businesses and reviewing laws regarding bullying.
“This notion that we have a two-system state, two-tier state, a two-class state. That has to become a thing of the past immediately. And it will,” Murphy said. “I look at the bills that have been proposed and vetoed. The ideas that are on the runway. And you add it all up and you realize there’s one piece of the puzzle, in many respects only one piece of the puzzle, that’s missing. And that’s a governor who is on your side. I will be that governor.”
Murphy said progress on LGBT rights still needs to be made after gay marriage was legalized by a state Superior Court decision in 2013. He promised to stand up to President Trump’s administration, which Fuscarino said has appointed “viciously anti-LGBT people” to positions of power.
Murphy is running against Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. She has attended several LGBT events recently, including a New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce event in April and Garden State Equality gala in May. But she opposed a 2012 bill to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey, supporting Christie’s call to have the issue decided by statewide referendum instead.
In a statement, Guadagno spokesman Ricky Diaz said her campaign “is about making our state more affordable for all New Jerseyans regardless of race, background or sexual orientation.”
“But if Goldman Sachs millionaire Phil Murphy is elected, there won’t be any New Jerseyans left since he will raise taxes so high that everyone except Phil Murphy will have to move to another state because they can’t afford it here anymore,” he said.