Thursday, December 31, 2009

People and things that should disappear from NJ in 2010

I really want to thank the great folks at Blue Jersey for keeping me informed when it comes to state news. I was asked to write a piece for them to wrap up 2009 and make it exclusive there. It does not mean that I won't share it with my readers here, but I'm just sharing the link so you go over and visit Blue Jersey. Happy New Year everyone, and may 2010 be a great year for progressives in NJ and the rest of the country.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

10 people who should go away in 2010

This is part one of a series of year-end lists wrapping up what was 2009 in politics. More will be coming before the New Year as I want to wrap up 2009 in style.

1) Carrie “Miss Homophobe” Prejan—Carrie anyone who is doing any sort of performing or public appearances should know rule #1—know your audience. You’re a beauty queen, and a good part of the pageant audience includes gay men. Besides being the audience, chances are gay men were involved in designing your dress, and doing your hair and/or makeup. So to insult your audience by denying them a fundamental right is stupid on its own. But you used this moment to become a right-wing “celebrity” who is not worthy of a reality TV show. You complain about the media criticizing you and say they violated your freedom of speech. Carrie please study the Constitution and know that it applies to governmental agencies, not TV personalities. Unfortunately I don’t see her going away in 2010 as she probably has a job offer from Faux News.

2) Joe “You Lie” Wilson—Us liberals had to suffer through eight years of George W. Bush. Democrats in Congress sat through his speeches as he brought the country to war and ran up the deficit like a drunken sailor in a whorehouse. We were told to shut up and respect the office of the President of the United States. Not once did one of us use a nationally televised address to Congress to heckle the President like you did. We expect the same kind of respect. What’s good for the gander. Fortunately there’s a way to hand Joe Wilson an early retirement in 2010. His opponent, Rob Miller, has already raised over a million dollars because of the outburst. If you’d like to support Rob Miller, make a donation through ActBlue.

3) Mark “Hiking the Appalachian trail” Sanford--- So as Governor of South Carolina, before this summer he was best known for being a vocal opponent to President Obama’s stimulus package. Well all along when he was speaking out against the stimulus package, he was heading off to Argentina so his mistress could stimulate his package, all while telling his family and constituents that he was hiking the Appalachian trail. And you were a man who was one of the most vocal supporters of impeaching President Clinton because of his sex life. Your hypocrisy is showing there Mark, and it came at a great price for you--- it cost your wife, and almost your job. So much for that 2012 Presidential nomination. Stay classy Mark.

4) “Traitor” Joe Lieberman--- I can’t believe I voted for this man for VP back in 2000. Since 2006, when the Democrats in Connecticut voted him out in their primary, Traitor Joe shows his true loyalty—to himself, ran as an independent, and counted on Connecticut Republicans to keep his Senate seat. In 2008 he turned on his party even more by speaking at the RNC and campaigning for John McCain and Sarah Palin. He begged Harry Reid to let him keep his Homeland Security Committee chair, even though he turned on his party. We Democrats were told we could count on his vote for key domestic issues, such as health care reform. We’re suckers here. Joe Lieberman again flip-flops on his prior promises to reform the health care system. What the mainstream media (except for Rachel Maddow) failed to mention is his wife’s ties to the health care industry—Hadassah Lieberman’s an insurance/pharma lobbyist and her direct interests conflict with those of the American people (not the corporations she represents.) In any other occupation, this would be considered a conflict of interest, and it’s time to extend conflict of interest laws to elected officials.

5) Sarah “Quitter” Palin—Sarah Sarah Sarah where do I start. You start off the year quiet, which is the way a losing VP candidate should be. Then in May you make David Letterman your enemy because he made a joke about your daughter, who you forced into becoming an abstinence-only spokeswoman after she had a baby. A teen mom as an abstinence-only spokeswoman is like asking Mark Sanford to become a spokesman for how to stay faithful to his wife. Then in July she announces that she’s quitting her job as governor of Alaska after half a term to pursue other career opportunities--- like making up lies about President Obama’s health care plan, writing a book, and spending the day on Facebook. She decided to title her book “Going Rogue” which has other meanings (if she had only learned from the “teabagger” debacle and consulted Urban Dictionary first). Now I have not read her book (and I don’t plan on doing so), but apparently it’s spent trashing many staffers that worked with her so closely on the campaign trail with John McCain. Sarah, if you want to run in 2012, chances are a lot of the same staffers will also be working on the GOP campaign, so why trash them now? If you wanted to air dirty laundry--- why write a book when there’s already a venue for doing so that your followers could much more closely relate to. It’s called the Jerry Springer Show, and I bet your fans watch it a lot more than they read. Or you just a 7th grade mean girl who never grew up. Either way your credibility in 2012 will be slim, as nobody wants to elect a President who will only serve half a term.

6) Orly “Birth Certificate” Taitz —Orly you’ve gone off the deep end. President Obama released his birth certificate when he was a candidate, and the state of Hawaii confirms it’s real. I’ve seen President Obama’s birth certificate online, and you make up all this bullshit about the “long form.” Well I got news for your Orly—I was born 19 years after President Obama in a much more urban state (that by those standards should have more detailed birth certificates) and my New York birth certificate only has very few details--- just my date and place of birth, and the birth names of my parents. And when I moved here to New Jersey, the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission accepted it as full proof of my citizenship when I went to transfer my driver’s license. Now guess what Orly—I don’t have a “long form” birth certificate and could not produce one on demand, but I will give you the one issued by the hospital where I was born. I would expect you to treat President Obama the same way you would treat me.

7) Dick “Torture Defender” Cheney—Dick Dick Dick you were incredibly silent and under the radar as VP, yet now that you’re out of office you haven’t met a Faux News camera that you don’t like. You had one of the lowest approval ratings as Vice President ever. The public knew you were a war monger who saw oil dollar signs in your eyes at the thought of invading Iraq. Your and George Bush’s policies were unpopular, and in 2008 the American people spoke. Now that President Obama is trying to restore our image around the world that you destroyed, you’re bitching and moaning about it. Would you please go back into your bunker, and take your daughter with you.

8) Rush “Boss” Limbaugh—Not too many people will wish failure on a very popular elected official before he even takes office. I wish I could say that this was the worst of El Rushbo’s offenses, but it’s just the icing on the cake. Along with most of the other right-wing talkers on the radio and Faux News, Obama’s presidency exposed the real reason for Limbaugh’s hatred. It has nothing to do with President Obama’s politics, but instead his race. El Rushbo does not want someone who is not white anywhere near the White House. While 2009 was known as the year of the outrageous Limbaugh remark, when he mentioned that in “Obama’s America black kids beat up white kids on the school bus" and cited a single incident. Then he goes on about how we should go back to segregated buses. This rant (which was posted about early this year) sums up who Rush Limbaugh really is.

9) Glenn “Race Baiting” Beck -- Here’s another that I don’t know where to start for. Here is a man who in 2009 called for the assassination of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (previously his hit target was brilliant filmmaker Michael Moore), spread lies about President Obama (he’s a Marxist, Communist, Socialist, Fascist, etc), gave airtime to every radical conspiracy theory, organized the 9/12 teabag march on Washington, and had a famous “get off my phone” rant to a caller who dare disagreed with his radical theories. In the world according to Mr. Beck, President Obama has a deep seated hatred of white people (I guess Glen did not get the memo that the President’s mother and grandparents who raised him were white). The public was fed up with Glenn Beck’s antics and actually put their money where their mouths are, and his show lost over 80 advertisers. The American people do not want to turn on the TV or radio to see someone spreading lies, fear, and hate. However Faux did not get the memo.

10) Rahm “The Left Does Not Matter” Emanuel---President Obama’s chief of staff is the only official Democrat on my list. However in my opinion, Rahm is not a Democrat but a DINO. He represents the corporatist DLC wing of the Democratic Party, which the party’s base tries to distance themselves from. What Rahm fails to understand is recent election results when the Democratic party’s candidate did NOT play to their base. I’ve used this term ad nauseum on this blog, but you have to preach to the choir. President Obama’s approval numbers have been going down lately, and it’s not the center that he is losing. His caving in on healthcare reform is starting to cost him his base. Many of the people who spent countless (unpaid) hours knocking on doors, making phone calls, etc to make sure Obama is elected are the very people who he is starting to lose. And I blame Rahm Emanuel for this, as he’s famously said that the left does not matter (and had a public feud with Howard Dean in 2006). Personally I think the guy should be fired, and I will go into more detail about this in a future post. No president can afford to lose his base, and the chief of staff needs to understand that.

After writing this list, I realized that I want way more than ten people to go away in 2010. I do have a list of honorable mentions, but instead of mentioning them here, I am opening up the comments section for it. Who would YOU like to see go away in 2010? Please keep it politically related.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My political wish list

Tis the season for making wish lists. I'm no longer a child who sits on Santa's lap with a list of toys that I want, but that does not mean I cannot make lists. As the year and decade comes to a close, this is what I would like to see in the next year and decade.

1) For all Americans regardless of their political affiliation to realize that the right to vote should not be taken for granted. Our founding fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they realized how low voter turnout can be, especially in off-year elections. Many Americans voted for the first time in 2008 and were very excited about voting for President Obama. My wish is that they will continue to vote in every election and vote for the candidates down the ticket too.
2) That any two unrelated consenting adults who would like to get married be able to get married in the eyes of the state.
3) That Senator Frank Lautenberg stays healthy for the remainder of his term, or at least until Christie leaves office.
4)That Jon Corzine will use his deep pockets to really do some good for New Jersey. He has the power to become an Al Gore type figure who is more influential outside politics than within politics. New Jersey is full of lots of great progressive organizations that could really take off with financial backing.
5) The health care bill passed the Senate today. My wish is that the final version is more like the House bill, and that it will strengthen in time (including a public option which anyone could buy into).
6) That all our soldiers return home from Iraq and Afghanistan safely so that they can spend the holidays with their families, where they belong.
7) That every vote is counted fairly and accurately
8) That the Democrats in Washington and Trenton locate their spines and learn how to use it. Take a lesson from Alan Grayson.
9) That progressives finally get an equal voice in the media, and that progressive talk radio is available to all who would like to listen to it.
10) That Sarah Palin crawls back under the rock where she came from.
11) That we finally end the tax breaks for companies who outsource their jobs to China, India, and the rest of the world, and that any American who wants a job can have a good job at a wage that will be enough to live on.
12) That the word "liberal" is no longer a dirty word in American politics, and that more people would speak up and say that they're proud to be liberal.
13) That we as a nation start to focus on Main Street instead of Wall Street.
14) That we never fight another war for oil.
15) That we pass some strong laws that limit the influence of corporate lobbyists in Washington. We can't have laws written by lobbyists anymore.
16) That our food movement goes from industrial food back to locally produced food.
17) That President Obama fires his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and replaces him with someone who will actually listen to progressives instead of just Republicans and corporations.
18) That legislators be subject to conflict of interest laws the same way several other occupations are.
19) That progressives in New Jersey are get organized and build a strong enough base to take back Trenton in 2013, and possibly knock a Republican from NJ out of Washington this fall.
20) That all the readers of my blog, and all my fellow progressives throughout the country have a very happy holidays, and safe and healthy 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Conngressman Frank Pallone's Twitter Town Hall

This town hall was so much better than the town hell this summer in Red Bank. I had a few questions asked but am still not sold on the mandates. We'll see where reform leads us. Like I've said before, I have not been paying as close attention to national issues as I have to state issues over the last few months so I'm not as up to date on healthcare reform as I should be. For now I'm posting the transcript from Congressman Pallone's town hall. I've edited all the Twitter names except for his and mine to protect the privacy of the other users and instead they're referred to with initials so readers know which user the Congressman is responding to.

FrankPallone Welcome everyone to my first ever Twitter Town Hall on health care reform - I look forward to answering all of your questions. #ttpallone
JWMC @FrankPallone thank you for your tireless work for NJ and being the best person to intern for! Proud to call you my congressman #ttpallone
SH @frankpallone Congressman, thank you for doing you remain committed to seeing a public option one day?#ttpallone
FrankPallone @SH - I intend to push for the public option and insist on the House version as we go to conference. #ttpallone
DMR Are you concerned about the big premium tax revenue loss for NJ if we have a public option plan #ttpallone
tabbycat331 @FrankPallone Question- Can u clarify about mandates? How can there be mandates w/o a public option to keep ins companies honest #ttpallone
FrankPallone @tabbycat331 -The exchange operated w/ private plans administered by fed gov't wld act like a lrge group plan & keep premiums low #ttpallone
FrankPallone @p1974 - By reforming health insurance we'll also improve access to health care & encourage prevention & wellness. #ttpallone (Original question was deleted from Twitter)
tabbycat331 @frankpallone what about the mandates? Are there penalties/fines like in the MA health plan that does not work #ttpallone
JL @frankpallone Do you know there are gays and lesbians who are uninsured because we can not get married? #ttpallone
RD How are the ins. companies going to be regulated so they're not raising rates unfairly?#ttpallone
FrankPallone @tabbycat331 - A penalty would be paid through your income tax if you don't have insurance. Mandating coverage lowers premiums. #ttpallone
LW What did you think of the idea of lowering Medicare to age 55 ?? #ttpallone
CM @FrankPallone what if people can't afford the mandated coverage but are still under the mandate rules? #ttpallone
FrankPallone @p1974 - Without SCHIP, kids will now be covered by Medicaid or the health exchange. #ttpallone (original question no longer available)
CM @FrankPallone also on mandates, even if premiums are lowered, would the quality of coverage be expanded or remain similar to now? #ttpallone
FrankPallone @RD - The health exchange will increase competition that didn't exist before and that will keep rates down. #ttpallone
FrankPallone @LW - Its a good idea, but the Senate has now dropped it so I don't see it happening as part of this reform package. #ttpallone
a23 @FrankPallone What is your view on low Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement in NJ & what's being done to ensure seniors are protected? #ttpallone
FrankPallone @CM - People should be able to afford coverage b/c of the expansion of Medicaid & the subsidies through the health exchange.#ttpallone
FrankPallone @a23 - In general the bill significantly improves reimbursement rates for both Medicare & Medicaid. #ttpallone
LW What happens 2 health bill after Senate votes on it? If it goes to conference committee could there be changes need to vote on #ttpallone
CM @FrankPallone would you vote for a final bill that contains much of the Senate provisions, Stupak amendment and no public option? #ttpallone
FrankPallone @JL - The House Bill changes the tax code and helps provide equal access to health care for civil union partners. #ttpallone
FrankPallone @JL - However, I support Marriage Equality. #ttpallone (personal note-- GREAT!! Now please fire up the Democrats in Trenton)
FrankPallone @CM -I am determined to fight for the House version in Congress & expect compromises to be made between the House & Senate. #ttpallone
a23 @FrankPallone Do you think premium tax fees incl. in Senate bill will ult. result in increase in cost of premiums for individuals #ttpallone
DG @FrankPallone Does the health bill cover outreach costs 2 uninsured Americans, who may not b following the news as closely as me? #ttpallone
FrankPallone @LW - The House & Senate will negotiate a conference report bill which both houses would vote on. #ttpallone
FrankPallone @a23 -I will work to strip the tax on insurance plans from the Sen bill during conference bc of these types of concerns. #ttpallone
a23 @FrankPallone Do you believe the final HC reform bill will do enough to address underlying causes of rise in healthcare costs? #ttpallone
FrankPallone The CLASS Act will help elderly & disabled get community based longterm care & support. An important part of the House & Sen bill #ttpallone
cm @FrankPallone Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. This was a great idea. #ttpallone
wtu I am swm 38, earn $30k in NYS. I have Health insurance, but I cannot afford treatment (due to co-pays). Any help in this bill? #ttpallone
FrankPallone @dg -Over 30 million now uninsured Americans will be covered under this bill; near universal coverage.. #ttpallone
FrankPallone Thanks to the folks at @BlueJersey for live blogging the town hall: #ttpallone
jl @FrankPallone that was pretty cool! #ttpallone
FrankPallone Sorry for the delay - my lunch just came. @wtu is next to be answered. Thanks for all the questions. #ttpallone
wtu @FrankPallone I am 38/s, earn $30k.I have Health insurance, but I cannot afford treatment due to co-pay. Any help in this bill?#ttpallone
FrankPallone @wtu - The House & Senate bill caps out of pocket spending & makes health insurance more affordable. #ttpallone
wtu @FrankPallone what is the out of pocket spending cap in the bill? Affordable 4 single earning $30k? My co-pays will be less? #ttpallone
FrankPallone @wtu -The caps depend on income levels & the size of your family, if you need more info call my office, 732-571-1140 #ttpallone
SS @FrankPallone, are you going to be on the conference committee that smooths differences between the House and Senate versions? #ttpallone
FrankPallone @SS -Its not clear if there will be a formal conference committee. House & Senate may work out the differences informally. #ttpallone
la @FrankPallone How will the health care reform bill affect medicare? #ttpallone
LW what would you change in the Senate version if you could? #ttpallone
SS @FrankPallone, can you appoint House pages? If so, can I apply through your office because my Congresswoman cannot. #ttpallone
FrankPallone @LW -I would replace the tax on insurance plans w/ the House millionaire surcharge & I would add the public option. #ttpallone
LW where can we read the latest version of bill and Reid's manager version?
LW Thank you for doing this Twitter town hall & thank you for answering my questions =) #ttpallone#ttpallone
FrankPallone @wrb - Yes, I believe #HCR will cover the uninsured, lower costs, and eliminate discriminatory practices. #ttpallone
FrankPallone Please visit my website to learn more: #ttpallone
FrankPallone I want to thank everyone for participating in my first Twitter Town Hall. Thanks and I'll be back again for another one. #ttpallone
FrankPallone If you have any more questions you can contact me here: #ttpallone - Thanks again!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chris Matthews on the Netroots

I must admit I haven't been paying as close attention to the latest developments in the healthcare bill as I should be. For one I have a life outside The Outspoken Liberal, and secondly I have been focusing more on state issues than national issues. I am very disappointed in some of the developments of the Senate bill (mainly bowing down to Traitor Joe Lieberman) but I don't know enough of the details to really comment everything. I plan on calling Menendez and Lautenberg's offices to see if their staffers will answer a few questions of mine tomorrow.

Back to Chris Matthews-- I can see his point. If he reads over at Daily Kos and Democratic Underground, there ARE people who are threatening to stay home in 2010 if the bill is not up to their standards. I will give him that. However there are also many in the "netroots" including myself that see the political reality. We had many angry Democrats stay home in 2009 in New Jersey and it got us Governor-elect Christie--- a Karl Rove protege. I voted (and campaigned hard) for Corzine despite his flaws. There is a time and place to let your anger be known at the polls within your own party. That is called the primary. Unfortunately many states don't take advantage of it, and I'm fully convinced that if someone else were on the Democratic ticket for NJ governor, we would have held the seat. It's very rare to primary an incumbent, but I think it's a practice that needs to be expanded upon everywhere. Turnout in the primaries is even worse.

I'm the kind of person who loves to prove naysayers wrong. Chris Matthews said that as the netroots, we have no desire to work in public service or hold elected office. I know that is not true for myself (I'm at least 5 years away from running for office myself though-- I want to establish myself in NJ more first). Would I like to work in public office? Absolutely! The more I think about it the more it appeals to me (especially after spending time at the statehouse).

To all you netroots supporters who may be reading this blog. We have to listen to Chris Matthews (even if it is painful to you). We need to turn out in large numbers in 2010 as we did in 2008, and keep enthusiastically going to the polls, and volunteering on campaigns just as we did in 2008. Protesting at the ballot box is not the way to go. Instead get involved locally, just as I have. Take back your local Democratic party and push them to run progressive candidates at all levels, or even run for office yourselves. Remember our fighting words-- yes we can.

Friday, December 11, 2009

thoughts from Trenton

Even though the marriage equality bill in Trenton has been put on hold for the time being (tick tick tick, the clock's winding down otherwise we have to wait at least 4 years), I still spent the day yesterday in Trenton lobbying for marriage equality. It was a different experience than last week because I was healthy enough to make it through the day and realize the impact my visit to Trenton had.

Garden State Equality has been nothing short of amazing when it comes to organizing. Last week we filled every hearing room in the statehouse. They organized everyone by dressing them all in GSE t-shirts and buttons (more on that later). Their planning is nothing short of amazing, and I really admire their skills. We arrived in Trenton around 8:00 for a day filled with GSE events and to lobby our senators. We were given name tags with our name and city, as well as tags that just had the district on it. People could look at us and easily tell where we came to Trenton from. Because the vote was put on hold, our numbers were much smaller than they were in the past.

Yesterday the Senate caucuses had their party meetings. Since I live in a district represented by a Republican in Trenton, I was in the hallways at the Republican chamber of the statehouse. It's probably the only time I will ever be in any Republican chamber. Senator Bill Baroni was the lone Republican hero who voted for the bill in committee on Monday. He received a standing ovation when he walked out of the closed conference room, and it was his birthday, so he received warm birthday issues from GSE volunteers and staffers. He was very friendly and approachable, and listened to his heart and did the right thing, instead of looking at his party's platform.

I was able to tag along to another volunteer's conversation with my senator, Sean Kean. Senator Kean was a very nice and approachable guy, and is trying to keep an open mind about marriage equality, even though his religious beliefs are anti marriage equality. I was able to tell him that as a straight person (probably one of the only ones there) that it's important to me that everyone has the same right to marry that I do. Another promise that i wrote in a letter to Senator Kean (that I was not able to tell him in person) is that if he votes yes on this bill, I will not only vote Republican for the first time in my life, but also donate money to his campaign. For a lifelong Democrat, that is a huge promise.

My final reflection of the day came after all the lobbying was done, and I was enjoying pizza with a bunch of GSE supporters. I was probably the only straight in the room, and I did not mind it one bit. Everyone was super nice, and a real pleasure to be around. It dawned on me that their very livelihood is at stake, and could live or die depending on this bill. Would their relationships finally be seen as equal in the eyes of the state? They want nothing special, just the same treatment that I receive as a straight woman. And I want nothing more than for everyone to be able to get married.

Would I have organized these lobby days differently? In some ways absolutely. But overall I think that they've been effective if the senators are anything like I am. To be able to put a face to a unjust situation is often the most effective ways to change the world and achieve justice. I hope that over the last few weeks, our senators and assembly members in Trenton consider the hundreds of faces in the crowd, just like the group I had pizza with, when they are voting for marriage equality.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the frustrated progressive

Maybe this should be my blog's name now because that's about what sums up my feelings when it comes to politics. I first got involved in politics back in 2004 after seeing a movie-- Fahrenheit 9/11-- and it woke me up to realize what damage Republicans can and have done to this country. Unfortunately on a daily basis, I see that Republicans are not alone in doing damage to this country. I can name two instances currently going on, one happening in Washington, and the other in Trenton where I feel like I'm being abandoned by my own party. Both issues have been commented on ad nauseum in this blog (healthcare and marriage equality).

Yesterday in Trenton, two Democrats voted no on moving the marriage equality bill out of committee. And in my home state just last week 8 Democrats voted against marriage equality. I thought that the Democrats had a party platform of valuing all families and hence giving the LGBT community the basic civil right of marriage. And now in New Jersey, with the fight for marriage equality on life support, we have to court Republicans because we can't get the Democrats to vote as a party for marriage equality.

And I had health care polls and posts on this blog earlier, before I started focusing on more local battles for and in Trenton. Today the key for healthcare reform that would keep the bloodsucking insurance companies honest-- a government-run public option-- was killed in the Senate today. Instead Medicare will be opened up to those 55 and older not 65 and older. I know that I did propose opening Medicare up at 55 over the summer, but not at the expense of the younger generation who needs healthcare reform just as much as the 55-65 crowd does (I am nowhere near 55, and have been ill for the last week-- I would have seen a doctor but because I'm uninsured, that was not an option for me). The Democrats have catered to their most conservative members and the Republicans in order to get more votes and appear bipartisan.

But I have some news for my fellow Democrats. The Republican party has been like a schoolyard bully. They're constantly spreading rumors and making threats if the victims (Democrats) don't cave into their demands. Just as in the schoolyard, if a nasty rumor gets repeated often and loud enough, the other kids believe it. Can we say death panels? Socialized medicine? The government will come between patient and doctor (which no MAN wants but apparently it's okay if you're female and want reproductive healthcare)? And personal attack rumors that are reminiscent of a schoolyard bully's words? He's born in Kenya? He pals around with terrorists? He's a socialist communist fascist? He's a secret Muslim?

And here come the Democrats, the spineless wonders who cave into the bully Republicans. The public option was the best hope for healthcare reform short of single payer. Most Americans wanted the choice of private or public insurance (and voters on my health care poll overwhelmingly favored public insurance). It was watered down so much to please the Republicans that it was barely viable. Most of us who WANT to be on the public option would not be able to. In my eyes that's not a viable option. Must we as a party compromise on our integrity in order to please the other side? From 2001-2007 when the Republicans controlled all 3 branches of government, I did not see them doing this. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

a legal argument for marriage equality

In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court Case Lewis v. Harris brings up several key arguments about the institution of marriage and what role the government should play. The Plaintiffs in the case are seven same-sex couples in long-term relationships who seek the remedies of the right to marry and all the legal benefits that come with marriage. Ultimately the Court told the legislature that they had to pass same-sex marriage or an equivalent institution that would grant same-sex couples the same legal benefits that come with marriage. The “separate but equal” institution of a civil union is supposed to grant same-sex couples all the legal rights of marriage short of calling their union marriage. Vermont was the first state to pass a civil union law, followed by Connecticut, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. Some other states currently have domestic partnerships, but not civil unions. All civil union states except for New Jersey have since upgraded to full marriage equality for all couples regardless of their gender.

The intent behind civil unions is good—to provide same-sex couples with all the legal benefits of marriage without “damaging” the institution of marriage. It’s seen as a compromise that many voters can agree on. As Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut have realized, they do not work. Many laws currently on the books that give married couples legal rights—such as the right to visit each other in the hospital, and to obtain health insurance through the spouse’s employer—are supposed to be extended to couples in civil unions, but are not. In New Jersey, many employers who offer health insurance benefits to a person’s spouse will not offer the same benefits to a person’s civil union partner. Hospitals often do not give medical information to a civil union partner the same way they would to a spouse. Also more same-sex couples are raising children together, and it is hard for a child to explain a civil union relationship.

Much of the opposition to marriage equality comes from a religious point of view. Many religious people see marriage as the exclusive union between one man and one woman as their religious text says. However the United States and New Jersey Constitutions have a provision for the separation of church and state. In my opinion any religion can deny a couple the right to get married for whatever reason, but a non-related pair of consenting adults should not be denied a civil marriage. Ultimately marriage is a civil institution. When a marriage ends in divorce, it is the state and not the church that will ultimately end the couple’s legal relationship. If the marriage equality bill passes the New Jersey Legislature, there is a provision that would not require churches to recognize or perform same-sex marriages.

There is already case law on the books that establishes marriage as a fundamental human right. In 1967, the United State Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia ruled that Virginia’s marriage laws violated the due process clause and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Before her death in 2008, Mrs. Loving spoke on the issue of marriage equality and said that she believed that all couples should have the right to marry.

In 1967, the Courts decided that couples should not be discriminated against on the basis of race (incidentally this year, a Louisiana Justice of the Peace refused marriage to an interracial couple). At the time, race was the important civil rights battle of the generation. Now another generation is here along with another civil rights battle. The civil rights battle of the early twenty-first century is to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. New Jersey is a leader in anti-discrimination laws against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. In this day and age and with New Jersey’s anti-discrimination reputation on the line, it only makes sense to pass full marriage equality for all couples regardless of gender.

Monday, December 7, 2009

marriage equality clears 1st hurdle in NJ

Breaking news on the New Jersey marriage equality bill--- it made it out of the judiciary committee on a 7-6 vote. While I REALLY wanted to be in Trenton today to witness this firsthand, I am not in very good health right now, and it was better off that I did not get a large group of people sick. Maybe I will go Thursday when the bill will be voted on, but that depends on other things too.

To all who testified, thank you. If given the opportunity, I would have testified by reading the blog entry from about a month ago that was widely quoted. It's very hard to imagine how important the issue of marriage equality is when you are straight like me. To me this is about letting all my friends have the same right to get married as me-- at least in New Jersey. In my mind marriage is a civil right, and the United States Supreme Court agrees with me on this, or they did a generation ago.

Now for the heroes and goats of tonight's committee hearing on the marriage equality bill. I'll start with the goats.

Paul Sarlo (D)-- Senator, thank you for allowing the bill to be voted on out of committee, but please reconsider your position (relative to your party) when it comes to voting for all families. This is a direct quote from his website "TRENTON – Senator Paul A. Sarlo, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today posted S-1967, the Marriage Equality Act, on the Judiciary Committee’s December 7th agenda, keeping a pledge he made to supporters of the act, but reiterated that he does not support the legislation and will vote against it."
This vote may cost you your job, and if you vote no again I really hope that you face a strong primary challenger in your bid for re-election in 2011.

John Girgenti (D)-- Another Democrat who voted no on the bill. Again listen to his constituents and be prepared to face a primary challenger.

Jennifer Beck (R)-- I thought that you would be one of the few Republicans to come on board and support full civil rights for all couples wishing to get married. The 12th district has a lot of supporters of marriage equality, especially in municipalities like Red Bank. There may be a possibility that her vote could be flipped--- I urge everyone to call and email her right now 732-933-1591,

Gerald Cardinale (R)-- probably the most vocal opponent of marriage equality in New Jersey. Reading some of the things he said, I might as well have been reading a fundamentalist Christian publication or Sarah Palin's book. Does he realize that New Jersey is not Oklahoma? I don't know anything about his district, but he's one senator I'd love to see defeated.

And now for the heroes of marriage equality-- part one.

Loretta Weinberg (D)-- She was Jon Corzine's running mate this November. And after seeing her in action tonight, I think that we could have pulled this election off if she were on the top of the ticket. Senator Weinberg-- even though I am not your constituent, I wish I was. Thank you from all of New Jersey, and keep up the good work.

Ray Lesniak (D)-- Another strong supporter of marriage equality, who also lead the battle to abolish the death penalty in New Jersey. Sees this as an important piece of civil rights legislation that will move New Jersey forward.

Bill Baroni (R)-- Thank you for going against your party's best interests and with yours and your consitutents interests. We need more Republicans like you. Thank you.

And to the other Democrats who voted yes today, thank you. Thank you for showing a spine and doing the right thing.

One last thanks goes out to the great folks at Blue Jersey, without you guys I would not have been following this debate the way I did. Thanks for providing me with a venue to see the debate unfold.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

marriage equality again

This time I am not talking about New Jersey's marriage equality (which I plan on going to the state house tomorrow to lobby for). I'm talking about the vote in the state senate of my home state of New York. Today I was very disappointed in my home state of New York. They had an opportunity to make me proud, instead they let me down.

Even though I lived most of my life in NY, I was never very politically active there. I always voted when I was there, but I was not involved the way I am now. I never really paid attention to local, county, and state elections and simply voted straight (Democratic) ticket.

The following Democrats and all of the senate Republicans need to be ashamed of themselves. Joseph Addabbo, Darrel Aubertine, Ruben Diaz, Shirley Huntley, Carl Kruger, Hiram Monserrate, George Onorato, and William Stachowski are all deserting the Democratic party's platform of valuing all families. They all need to hear from their constituents (like filling their voicemails, inboxes, and flooding their snail mailboxes with hand-written letters). If that does not change their vote, they must be challenged by a real Democrat in the primary. They do not deserve to be re-elected.

One thing I do wonder is how organized New York is. When i lived there, I was not aware of any local grassroots political groups like the ones I am a part of now in New Jersey. Do they have a group like Garden State Equality that is on the ground getting supporters to call their legislators?

The one bright spot about New York is that they have a much longer window of opportunity than New Jersey does. Their unpopular incumbent governor David Paterson is in office for another year (he's not likely to be re-elected) like our governor said he would sign such a bill. The voters in NY cannot put the issue on the ballot like they did in California and Maine.

I write this as I'm heading to a marriage rally in Trenton tomorrow-- for once can both my home state and my adopted state make me proud?