Civic and elected leaders in Maplewood have been very vocal in their support of the marriage equality bill that was defeated by a vote of 20-14 in the New Jersey Senate today (four senators did not vote including incoming Senate President Steve Sweeney). Reactions to the vote came quickly:
From Committee member Jerry Ryan: "So, so disappointing. I think it's wrong, and unjust. I was only able to hear the last few senators speak on the NJN streaming feed, so I did not hear the entire debate. I thought those that I heard speak in favor of the bill made very compelling arguments about the need for equality in this area. Senator Gill's discussion about insurance coverage was something I would have hoped to have swayed votes."
From Vice Mayor Kathy Leventhal: "I will continue to support marriage equality for gays and lesbians. We've seen that Civil Unions are not able to do this. Today's vote has me saying 'Shazbat!' in anger, and 'Bravo!' as it seems that this human rights issue will be moved back to the courts by Garden State Equality."
From Mayor Vic DeLuca: "I watched the debate via the Internet and heard eloquent speeches in favor of this critical civil rights law. In particular, Senator Codey gave a great speech as did Senator Gill. The Republicans are the party of no and they voted as a block to stop marriage equality. Only Republican Senator Bill Baroni, who also gave a terrific speech, was brave enough to buck the party line. What is really sad is that the incoming Senate President, Democrat Steve Sweeney, abstained. He was joined by two other Democratic Senators. What was that about? We want our leaders to tell us where they stand on these important issues."
DeLuca continued: "The fight for marriage equality goes on even with this defeat. There will be more court cases and more elections and in the end I believe gay and lesbian couples will have equal right to get married. I want to let the same sex couples in Maplewood know that I stand with you and always will. We will continue this struggle today, tomorrow and as long as it takes until we are victorious."
Patch contributor and independent blogger Kirk Petersen weighed in as well: "I'm very angry on behalf of my gay friends, who deserve the same right to marriage that my wife and I enjoy. Same-sex marriage is a straightforward civil rights issue, and the only acceptable outcome is full marriage equality. The New Jersey Senate took a step in the wrong direction today."
Petersen, his wife, his pastor (Rev. Bernard Poppe of St. George's Episcopal on Ridgewood Road) and a busload of Maplewood residents traveled to Trenton on December 7, 2009 to voice their support of the bill at a rally at the State House.
Read Petersen's extended thoughts on the subject in his blog entry, "Today's NJ Gay Marriage Vote Hurts Real People."
The comments rolled in on Maplewoodonline.com as well in the soapbox category, mostly expressing disappointment with state lawmakers.