Monday, September 17, 2007 -- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection today denied the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association's request for continued tax breaks for the public boardwalk pavilion area on which the Association has banned gay civil unions.
On September 6, Garden State Equality and Ocean Grove United wrote a three-page legal letter to DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson requesting that the Department deny the Camp Meeting Association's request.
As Garden State Equality and Ocean Grove United wrote, state environmental regulations and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination specify that land receiving tax breaks must have open, nondiscriminatory access to the public. The ACLU of New Jersey wrote a subsequent letter to DEP underscoring these arguments.
"Though we're not home free yet, today's decision by the Corzine Administration is a significant victory for liberty and justice for all in Ocean Grove," said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality. "The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association has only itself to blame for what will now be the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The question is, how much more hell will the Camp Meeting Association, and its national right-wing extremist backers, put the good people of Ocean Grove through?"
[If you'd like to support Garden State Equality's pathbreaking work, consider buying a ticket to their upcoming BLUE JEAN BALL and Barbecue Bonanza! on Sunday afternoon, October 14th. You may buy tickets online now at http://eqfed.org/gse/events/bluejeanball/details.tcl.]
In response to the Camp Meeting Association's ban, two couples seeking to get civil-unioned on the boardwalk have filed complaints with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. The Camp Meeting Association has filed a lawsuit to allow it to continue the ban.
"We all know how this saga is going to wind up," Goldstein said. "The boardwalk will eventually be open once again to civil unions. Our side is going to win hands down because the law is overwhelmingly on our side. The boardwalk is public property by virtue of its use for decades by the public. It's time for the Camp Meeting Association to see the handwriting on the pavilion, and end its discriminatory ban now."
Labels: anti-glbt, Camp Meeting Association, civil union, garden state equality, gay marriage, nj department of environmental protection, ocean grove fishing pier