Ray Lesniak on Civil Rights
Replace civil unions with same-sex marriage
Excerpts from legislation: The "Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act" would recognize same-sex marriage. Same-sex civil unions would no longer be permitted, and all previously sanctioned civil unions would be deemed to be
marriages. Religious organizations are not required to solemnize or provide goods or services for any marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.
Excerpts from veto message: Neither the US Constitution nor the NJ State Constitution
contain a right to same-sex marriage. In 2006, the NJ Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be afforded the same rights and benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. Civil unions grant all the same rights and benefits. I encourage that the
Legislature trust the people of NJ to vote on the question of same-sex marriage, and then amend the State Constitution.
Legislative outcome: Lesniak voted YEA; bill passed House 42-33-4; bill passed Senate 24-16-0; Governor vetoed.
Source: New Jersey legislative voting records: S1&A1
, Feb 13, 2012
Evolved from supporter of LGBT rights to an advocate
I was always a supporter of LGBT rights, but I evolved to become more than a supporter. I became an advocate. As I explained in the book I co-authored with Senator Weinberg, "What's Love Got To Do With It. The Case For Same Sex Marriage", I saw the hurt
that disowning your authentic self can do to a human being. And I saw the joy and the love when someone is free to embrace who they are. I came to believe that the recognition of same sex marriage would be uplifting for our entire society.
When Senator Weinberg and I insisted on a vote at the end on the legislative session under Governor Corzine, we were hoping for a miracle. A miracle that never came. We didn't have enough Senators, Democrats or Republicans.
We have not achieved marriage equality, but we're not going away. We won't rest until gay and lesbian couples have marriage equality in New Jersey.
Source: 2016-17 N.J. Governor campaign website, RaymondLesniak.com
Page last updated: Jul 24, 2017