Garden State Equality, New Jersey's largest gay rights advocacy group, has apologized to Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) after protestors gathered outside his 11-year-old daughter's holiday recital holding signs urging Kean to support marriage equality.
"I am sickened by this. That occurrence was in no way authorized by Garden State Equality," said Steven Goldstein, the organization's leader. "I know how it feels to have a zone of privacy crossed. Thus I am upset about what happened yesterday beyond words."
Garden State Equality fired an employee on Wednesday for sending what was viewed as an offensive communication.
The full text of Goldstein's apology to Kean:
Dear Senator Kean,
Yesterday I learned, and read in the paper today, that people from the community, some wearing my organization's buttons, appeared outside a family event of yours. I am sickened by this. Though that occurrence was in no way authorized by Garden State Equality – more than 10,000 people have our Equality buttons and more than 4,000 people have our Equality t-shirts from events over the past months – it certainly gave the appearance otherwise.
I recently had protesters opposed to marriage equality chant "God hates fags" outside a personal event of my own, so this kind of tactic is deeply upsetting to me. Last week, someone called my home and left an anti-Semitic message. I know how it feels to have a zone of privacy crossed. Thus I am upset about what happened yesterday beyond words.
I deeply apologize to you that anyone, but anyone, crossed a zone of privacy. I don't care how important an issue is to any one individual, organization or greater community. Garden State Equality, and I as its leader, will never tolerate that kind of invasion of personal privacy.
In fact, as the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday, a number of marriage-equality opponents praised Garden State Equality for how we conduct ourselves in the public arena with respect for their points of view.
On a personal level, I want you to know how much the organization and I respect you. You have been a gentleman over the years and have been gracious in meeting with us and hearing our views. No matter how you vote on this civil rights measure, we will continue to respect and appreciate you for your public service to the people of our state.
I extend to you and your family a joyous holiday season.
Chair and CEO
Garden State Equality