Although this group may not know it yet, my colleagues and I at the New American Movement are admirers and supporters of Garden State Equality. Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest civil rights organization, is one of many activist groups fighting for equal rights of the LGBT community, such as marriage equality and most recently, the invalidation of gay conversion therapy. Alongside the commotion being stirred at home, the invocation of equality for LGBT has taken the country by storm in recent years, with no signs of winding down.
In recent weeks, a handful of conservative Republicans – some to the dismay of others – at the state and federal level have publicly endorsed marriage equality. Their reasoning for doing so may be questionable, but nonetheless occurring at a rather steadily pace. All factors combined, the United States is embarking on a societal makeover in regards to its perception of LGBT citizens. Moreover, it is refreshing to see that Garden State Equality has and continues to spearhead the movement. Politically, the organization’s biggest ‘bone to pick’ is with Governor Christie.
While it may be difficult for many to draw the connection between LGBT and disability rights, both groups are fighting for the same thing: civil rights, equality, and justice. This is portrayed by Governor Christie’s approach on pivotal issues, in which he is adamant about closing institutions and banning gay conversion therapy, yet failing to support programs for poor people, of which many people with disabilities belong, such as off hour public transportation rates, Para transit funding with State dollars, Family Planning Centers for Health Care and ratify marriage equality. Aside from financial and employment maladies, the treatment of these communities is at the forefront of social justice issues concerning New Jersey. It’s time for Christie to take responsibility for his inconsistency: he’s either with us or against us.
Echoing the sentiments of Garden State Equality, civil rights should not require the permission of the public. This highlights the immediate need for Christie and the legislators to commit to all aspects of social justice, rather than placing emphasis on one component over the other. Continued political wheeling in the name of social justice could have negative consequences for many political careers, and most importantly, the lives of LGBT and people with disabilities.