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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

STATEMENT ON TODAY'S (NJ) RULING
from Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality:

Those who would view today's Supreme Court ruling as a victory for same-sex couples are dead wrong. So help us God, New Jersey's LGBTI community and our millions of straight allies will settle for nothing less than 100% marriage equality.

Let decision makers from Morristown to Moorestown, from Maplewood to Maple Shade, recognize that fundamental fact right now. So today, without missing a beat, Garden State Equality announces that Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, the Assembly Speaker Pro Tem, joined by Assemblyman Brian Stack and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, will introduce marriage-equality legislation. Thousands of us will now hit the streets, the phones and the hallways to get this legislation passed.

As the late Lt. Laurel Hester and too many other cases across New Jersey have shown, half-steps short of marriage -- like New Jersey's domestic-partnership law and also civil union laws -- don't work in the real world. Hospitals and other employers have told domestic-partnered couples across New Jersey: We don't care what the domestic partnership law says. You're not married.

That's why it wouldn't matter if the legislature added all the rights in the world to the current law without calling it marriage. Marriage is the only currency of commitment the real world universally understands and accepts.

We're not seeking marriage merely for some moral, ethereal victory. We're seeking marriage because New Jersey has proven that marriage is the only way a gay civil rights law will ever work in the real world.

Our community has a stunning track record, with victory after victory, when our fate is our own hands rather than in a court's. So right here and now, without wasting a moment, Garden State Equality kicks off its Campaign for a Marriage Equality Statute with these initial steps:

1. A GSE television commercial for marriage equality starring the late police officer Lt. Laurel Hester, known and loved throughout the state, begins in a few hours on News 12 New Jersey. It will air every single day and run for several weeks...

2. GSE today releases a communique from 268 key New Jersey grassroots leaders, a stunning cross-section of New Jersey's progressive electoral base, urging Governor Corzine and the Democratic-controlled state legislature to respect today's decision. Unprecedented in scope, the communique is signed by 84 African-American leaders, 68 Latino leaders, 54 labor leaders, and 62 leaders of grassroots advocacy organizations that are predominantly straight.

3. GSE will now create and lead a Statewide Task Force for a Marriage Equality Statute that will bring together the leadership and political savvy of 150 organizations across New Jersey, both straight and LGBTI.

4. GSE's "Equality Express" bus will now tour the entire state on upcoming weekends, with same-sex and opposite-sex couples talking to New Jerseyans about marriage equality. The first weekend tours will be to houses of worship across the state.

5. GSE will now accelerate implementation of "Awesome Autumn," our recently announced whirlwind of more than 50 public events across the state in just the next three months. It's the most concentrated, most ambitious statewide barnstorm ever produced by a public interest organization in New Jersey.

6. Because GSE understands that all politics is local, GSE's District Leaders -- leading the organization in each of New Jersey's 40 legislative districts -- now swing into immediate action to implement long-planned district-by-district grassroots campaigns.

That's the tip of the iceberg. Garden State Equality will shortly rollout DOZENS OF MORE ACTIONS including the next town meetings in our statewide town meeting series for marriage equality -- a series attended by more than 10,000 New Jerseyans and two-thirds of the state legislature since January 2003, and credited with transforming grassroots activism.

As you've seen from Garden State Equality's hundreds of events and thousands of e-mails over the past few years -- a breathless pace of activity that's not going to abate, so help us God -- we never give up and we never give in to those who tell us no.

Hell no. Over our dead bodies will we settle for less than 100% marriage equality. The people of New Jersey wouldn't want us to. According to the 2006 Zogby-Garden State Equality Poll, New Jersey favors marriage equality by 56% to 39%. Every other recent poll in New Jersey also shows a majority of voters favor marriage equality.

We will continue to exhaust our opponents until we win the marriage equality our families deserve. We will continue to outthink, outwork and outhustle the hatemongers every step of the way.

You must attend tonight's rally to tell legislators that anything less than 100% marriage equality is unacceptable. Right now, please call and forward this e-mail to all your friends to get them to the rally. There have never been circumstances more important than this. We'll see you tonight at 7 pm, Unitarian Church of Montclair, 67 Church Street.

Yours in history,

Steven Goldstein, Chair, Garden State Equality"

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