Assemblymen Also Urge Gov. Christie to Join the Conversation to Raise Awareness
New Jersey Assembly Deputy Majority Leader Reed Gusciora and Deputy Conference Leader Tim Eustace on Friday called for a nationwide conference and convention boycott of Arkansas following the state’s passage of legislation preventing its counties and cities from protecting the civil rights of individuals who identify as LGBT.
The Assemblymen also urged Gov. Chris Christie to join the conversation to raise awareness on the issue in light of similar anti-LGBT initiatives being introduced and advancing in other “red” legislatures around the country.
“The state constitution of Arkansas recognizes the ‘equality of all persons’ and their right to ‘pursue happiness,’ yet the legislature enacted a law that removed these constitutional protections for LGBT individuals on a local level,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/ Hunterdon). “Since they are effectively singled out for discrimination by the state, we are calling on all national groups to boycott holding or attending conferences and conventions in Arkansas.”
“Anti-gay initiatives such as Senate Bill 202 in Arkansas are purely discriminatory. They enable, and in fact encourage, systematic prejudice based on sexual orientation,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “LGBT communities around the country have made encouraging advances in recent years. We’ve achieved the right to marry in 37 states and the 2013 Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act paves the way to soon have that right nationwide.”
Eustace and Gusciora, two openly gay legislators, also noted that similar anti-gay measures were pending in state legislatures in Texas, Tennessee and West Virginia. In light of that, the Assemblymen called on Governor Christie encourage tolerance and understanding of LGBT individuals.
“Governor Christie could use this opportunity to speak out against discrimination, and draw national attention to the high standards that New Jersey has set in anti-bullying and anti-discrimination measures as a model that states should follow nationwide,” Eustace further noted.
“The United States of America was founded on the principal that all individuals have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. By allowing discrimination and encouraging prejudice, these policymakers are depriving citizens of all three of these inalienable rights,” Gusciora added. “We need to draw attention to such gross injustice as it happens, to ensure that those who facilitate widespread bigotry are held accountable for their actions nationwide.”