LGBTQ Democrats say progress was real in 2021 in New Jersey

New Jersey rainboiw colored map

Marriage equality and legislative map redistricting were crucial to LGBTQs for the future

“We are encouraged by the recent LGBTQ+ advancements in New Jersey that have occurred this week,” said the LGBTQ Democratic caucus in a statement in late December. “Two major victories include the approval of the new congressional redistricting map; and the passage of S3416 by both houses of the New Jersey Legislature, which codifies Marriage Equality into statute.”

In August 2021, the group urged political map-drawers to create districts that helped LGBTQ populations gain a bit more political clout in New Jersey. Through op-eds and collected data the group helped to build a case on how to cluster communities together to form LGBTQ-friendly congressional districts and presented testimony at the open redistricting hearings.

The group says that due to their efforts Neptune City, Ocean Grove, and Red Bank, with Asbury Park in the 6th Congressional District will be more LGBTQ-friendly for the community in a political sense. “Congressman Frank Pallone has been a strong friend and ally to the LGBTQ+ community,” said the organization in a press release. “We know he will continue to fight for the [LGBTQ] community.”

“We spent months educating allied organizations, elected officials, and redistricting authorities on why LGBTQ people are a legitimate community of interest, said Lauren Albrecht, Chair of New Jersey Democratic LGBTQ Caucus. “Moving largely LGBTQ+ populated communities together to form pro-equality regions is so critical as it ensures allocation of resources and smart policies to better protect our community and families whether it is funding for housing, healthcare, education, and so many other crucial issues.”

“Seizing on this once‐per‐decade opportunity to increase LGBTQ representation, we are ecstatic to see the progress that has taken place during these last few days,” stated Joe Forte, Vice-Chair. “New Jersey is leading the nation in LGBTQ+ equality.”

In addition to the redistricting map, legislative leaders voted to codify same-sex marriage into law in December. Both houses passed the marriage equality Senate Bill 3416. However, the group said they were “dismayed but not surprised to see many legislators vote against the law. They mentioned each of them by name as against marriage equality for LGBTQs. Those that voted against the law were: Senator Steven Oroho, Senator Bob Singer, Senator Christopher Connors, Senator Michael Doherty, Assemblyman John Catalano, Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger, outgoing Assemblywoman Serena Dimaso, Assemblyman Edward Thomson, Assemblyman Jay Webber, Assemblyman Erik Peterson, Assemblyman Parker Space, and Assemblyman Robert Auth.

“Should these Legislators need any information to clarify why LGBTQ people deserve the same rights as everyone else, we are always available to help in a teachable moment,” said the LGBTQ Dems. “Despite the opinions of these legislators that the LGBTQ community does not deserve to have the right to marry whomever we love, we are fortunate that most of our Representatives understand that upwards of 6% of the population does deserve this protection.”

The LGBTQ Dems thanked the legislative members that sponsored the bill. Primary Sponsors were Senators Sweeney, Weinberg, and Gopal and Assemblymembers Vainieri Huttle, Downey, Jasey, Quijano and Zwicker, and co-sponsors Senators Lagana, Ruiz, Singleton and Stack and Assemblymembers Calabrese, Chaparro, Danielson, Freiman, Johnson, Lampitt, McKeon, Mukherji, Murphy, Peters, Stanfield, and Swain.

For more information regarding the NJ LGBTQ Democrats, please visit them on the web or on Facebook