DENVER — With a captive audience, leadership of the LGBT advocacy organization Garden State Equality made a push this morning for legislation that would legalize gay marriage in New Jersey.
The group even opened the floor to ask for new legislative co-sponsors to the current bill. Assembly members Gordon Johnson, Joan Quigley, Pamela Lampitt and Nellie Pou all signed on, as did State Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham.
Chair Steven Goldstein lead the group’s efforts, detailing a recent poll that the group conducted on the issue and several state races and drawing their attention to Speaker Joseph Roberts’s support of gay marriage. But Goldstein made his most powerful appeal by telling a personal story.
Goldstein and his partner Daniel Gross, who he married in Canada in 2002 and has a civil union with in New Jersey, recounted a story about bringing Goldstein’s 43-year-old autistic brother to Disney World. The trouble was, while families with special children get to go to the front of lines, ride attendants didn’t recognize them as a family.
“He said I’m Steven’s civil union partner. The guy looked at him and said ‘What the hell is that?” said Goldstein. “We stood there five minutes and my brother’s actually getting physically upset. They did not let Daniel on the ride with my brother and I, because we were not considered a family.”
Goldstein said that that many civil union couples face worse problems in New Jersey, where their partners are denied health care by employers. While civil union legislation helped, Goldstein said, it’s no substitute for marriage.
“We are deeply and eternally grateful. In the 7 year battle, let’s go all the way for justice and equality for families like mine,” he said.