Monday, December 28, 2009

Loretta Weinberg: LGBT Hero


You know, there's all sorts of talk that LGBT rights will be passed nationwide as the younger generation moves into power, and that may be true. Studies show that thos people twenty-five and under are pro-equality, and might just be able to get the job done. But it isn't just the youngsters we have to be thankful for; there's a grandmother in New Jersey workin' overtime to see that the right thing is done.

Loretta Weinberg, grandmother and the Democratic senator from Teaneck, is a co-sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill up against a January 19 deadline. And if she fails? She'll wait, and she'll try again.

That's how Loretta rolls.

It took her over fifteen years to get a needle-exchange legislation, drafted to prevent the spread of disease among intravenous drug users, into law. She worked ten years on banning smoking indoors; and ten years to reduce the blood-alcohol limit to define drunken driving.

She tells the story of when she first became a grandmother and how she wasn't there the night her granddaughter was born; how she first heard the infant's crying over the telephone. "I hope by the time you grow up and read this, you'll think it was all pretty silly in terms of us having to be involved in a legislative process of giving equal rights to people."

Governor Corzine—who chose Weinberg to be his lieutenant governor candidate during his unsuccessful bid for reelection this year—has said he will sign a marriage equality bill, but the deadline is unforgiving: The Legislature's next opportunity to take up the issue is January 4, and Corzine's term ends on the 19th. Chris Christie, the Republican governor-elect, has said he supports New Jersey's civil-union statute but will not approve a bill granting marriage rights to same-sex couples.

He's a separate but equal kind of guy, you see.

But Weinberg's bill, co-sponsored with Raymond Lesniak, would make New Jersey the sixth state to legalize marriage for gays and lesbians. It was approved 7-6 by the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 7th, but was pulled before a full Senate vote.

"I think it's pretty dead right now," said Republican Senator Gerald Cardinale who voted against the bill, of course. "She's done everything that I think she could do to try to get the votes needed in the Senate. The word around the State House is that there are only 13 senators prepared to vote for this bill, so she's eight votes short."

But Loretta Weinberg doesn't give up, and says she is devoting 80 percent of her time to marriage equality. "Overall did I think we were going to be able to get this through more easily than we seem to have been able to? Yes. This is not a big issue to the general population. I campaigned all of the State of New Jersey. I'm talking about campaigning in the street, street fairs, places where you engage the regular public. Nobody ever brought this up to me. Not one person. Most of the people I met were concerned about their own marriages, their property taxes, getting and keeping a good job and how they educate their kids. They couldn't care less if two gay people want to get married."

And neither does this 74-year-old widowed mother and grandmother. Loretta Weinberg is one of our fiercest allies, putting her mouth,m her time, and her votes, where she says they should be.

1 comment:

Michael Ejercito said...

I have no objection to samer-sex couples getting equal rights in a separate institution.