Garden State Equality endorses Lautenberg

New Jersey’s main gay-rights organization today endorsed incumbent Frank Lautenberg over Rep. Rob Andrews in the Democratic Senate primary.

The group’s chairman, Steven Goldstein, said that both were “outstanding” candidates, but that they would stick with the tried-and-true Lautenberg, who has been “our greatest champion of equality.”

Goldstein cited Lautenberg’s coauthoring of the Ryan White AIDS Care Act in 1990, and his fight for increased federal funding for HIV and AIDS treatment since then.

“If Senator Lautenberg achieved nothing else in his career, that alone would weigh heavily for Garden State Equality’s endorsement,” wrote Goldstein in a press release. “But he has done so much more. Senator Lautenberg has been a fearless leader for LGBT civil rights and same-sex relationship recognition at the national level.”

Lautenberg and Andrews both told the group’s Board of Directors in telephone interviews that they support New Jersey legislation for “marriage equality,” even both voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. That law said the federal government would not recognize same-sex marriages and that states did not have to recognize same-sex marriages that were valid in other states.

Goldstein said that Andrews was the only New Jersey Democratic House member to vote to continue the Solomon Amendment, which withheld federal funds from universities that banned military recruitment on campus, usually because of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“The question becomes – and let’s not shy away from it – is Senator Lautenberg too old, at age 84, to serve another six-year term?” wrote Goldstein. “Far be it for Garden State Equality, as a civil rights organization, to consider ageism an appropriate measure by which to judge another. Vigor, regardless of age, is an appropriate issue. Age, in itself, is not.”

Garden State Equality endorses Lautenberg