Friday, June 23, 2006

Lassiter and the Transexuals take over Trenton

I knocked on over 10,000 doors (while stumping in the 14th district) and not one of the people I spoke with said to me, 'when you're elected you should ammend the constitution to discriminate against the gay community.' Not one."
-Republican Assemblyman Bill Baroni

Trenton was gayer than ever yesterday and Jim McGreevy was nowhere to be found!! And even though we definitely had a gay old time, there was a serious message to Equality Day at the state house. Namely, marriage and gender equality.

The day was put on by Garden State Equality and
Gender Rights Advocacy Association NJ. Our plan was to lobby the powers-that-be to remain sympathetic to our cause, which is equality for all citizens of New Jersey. Plain and simple.

jay lassiter :: Equality Day at the State House (updated with pics!)
We first met with the chiefs of staff for the Governor, Senate President Codey and Assembly Speaker Roberts. It was pretty obvious by the dialogue with these folks with that we (gays and transsexuals) have genuine allies in Gov. Corzine, Codey, and Roberts.

We next met with some members of the GOP caucus, who impressed me with their enlightened views on gay- and trans issues. John Bramnick (R-Union), Bill Baroni (R-Mercer) and Sean Kean (R-Monmouth) all showed up as did NJ GOP state Chairman Tom Wilson. I must confess, this meeting with the republican caucus was the most spirited of the day in my opinion. In addition to assurances we received that the GOP caucus would not write discrimination into the NJ coustitution, ("Never gonna happen" says Bramnick) they really held their own in a lively discussion on equality and diversity in the state. My lasting impression was these GOP memebers were really good guys. It was nice to engage with the other side without the fear that my "lifestyle" might be used against me on election day. Would you believe me if I suggested that these guys hold themselves to a completely different standard than Karl Rove and his brand of republicanism? (enlarge pic to see a captivated GOP caucus)

Next up was a meeting with NJ's brand spankin' new Public Advocate, Ron Chen. What's a public advocate you ask? Something akin to an ombubsmnan between NJ citizens and the government. An interloctor between "us" and "them" with regards to civil rights and other issues of advocacy. Mr. Chen's background as a law professor at Rutgers and with the ACLU inspired confidence. Not only does this guy have an intimate knowledge of NJ constitutional law, he also earned some stripes at the ACLU, as well. Blue Jersey invited Mr. Chen to write an op-ed piece here on the site, basically explaining in more detail the roll he hopes to play in the Corzine cabinet. So stay tuned for that.

After lunch it was back to the lobbying. We met with NJ State Senate majority leader Bernard Kenny (D Hudson) who said the right things to us, albeit it in a non-committal way. (Note to Sen. Kenny: simple questions require simple answers.)

Next we were treated to a mini-nervous breakdown courtesy of Sen. Bill Gormley (R- Atlantic) who is generally open to GLTBI-issues but seemed horrified at our contingent. "You've ambushed me!" and "I have nothing to say!" and further "i don't want to listen to you either."

Sen. Gormley's lack of hospitality was bitterly ironic. The gang was there to present him with a placque, basically thanking him for being a friend to the gays. EEEEKK!!

Shortly thereafter Sen. John Adler paid us a visit. His assurances that the bill protecting transexuals from discrimination would be "one of the first" pieces of legislation we take up in the next section. There was a woman in our juggernaut named Jacqui who presented the legislators with three years worth of rejected resumes which she suffered while trying to find a job after her (stunningly gorgeous) transformation. Basically, Jacqui couldn't find a job in NJ and had no legal recourse to fight the obvious discrimination she faced while seeking employment. "New Jersey failed me. Please don't make anyone else have to endure my fate." I should add that Jacqui is no longer living in NJ. So we lost a tax payer, and a life long Jersey homegirl. Our loss.

By the end of the day, we had also met with Assemblyman Joe Cryan, Chair of the Democrat State Committee who is clearly a friend and ally of the gays. In fact, of all the legislators, he seemed genuinely the warmest of the lot. Honestly, you learn a lot about a person watching them react to a transsexual. Joe Cryan seemed to exude an aura which said "I don't care where you fall on the gender continuum, you're still a knucklehead. Now come gimme a hug!!" (In this pic, I attempt to get the scoop from Cryan staffer Bob Bresenhan, but i was clearly distracted by the faaaaaabulous decor of the statehouse rotunda. click to enlarge)

In conclusion, our message could be boiled down to this: "We're still here, we're still queer. But we are also a powerful lobbying body and we vote and we matter and we're watching you."

(after a long day lobbyin' NJ NOW president Suzannah Porter leans in to congratulate Garden State Equality prez Steven Goldstein on a job well done. click to enlarge)


Moonbeam said...

Although I am pleased to hear of your gay rights activism, I adamantly disagree with your defense of transgenderism, which, in my opinion, is a mental disorder and is in no way, shape, or form a gay rights issue. Transexuals are people who, for whatever reason, are desperately trying to be something which they anatomically and genetically are not. Even if a man does have his penis removed and a pseudo-vaginal orifice surgically created and takes hormonal medications on a regular basis, he still has got male XY chromosomes in literally every single cell throughout his body. And, like every single transexual that I've ever encountered, he wouldn't fool me into thinking that he was biologically a woman for one fraction of a second.
I will never understand why this is considered a gay rights issue- it's not!! I am completely convinced that including them in our movement has been highly counter-productive. Mutilating ones genitals is barbaric and disgusting, I don't care what rationale is used in its defense. And as for a man wearing high heels and a dress- VERY unattractive and distasteful. While I will add that I don't share the right wing's hatred for such persons, I feel that they are really people who are more to be pitied than despised.

Anonymous said...

Cool, you people are awsome. Good work and interesting piece Jay.


Moonbeam said...

AND!! Speaking of distasteful clothing choices, that Suzannah Porter character from NOW gets the prize. Look at how her too-small shirt comes way up over her midriff! Very unprofessional, I would be embarrassed to be seen with her in public.

jay lassiter said...

Moonbean, stop leaving mean spirited messages on my site. Judging from the tenor of your remarks I wonder why you even read the blog in the first place.

Again, please stop with the harsh messages. It really bothers me.

Moonbeam said...

I do not feel that it is too much to ask that if an individual is publicly representing what is supposed to be a reputable organization that he or she dress in a professional manner. While the above post may have a rather acid tone to it, ask yourself what is probably going through the minds of the sophisticated NJ legislators when somebody marches into their office in blue jeans, a sleeveless spaghetti strap t-shirt that is about three sizes too small (and has black bra straps showing on the sides), sandles, and an unkempt, multi-colored hairdo. It immediately creates a bad impression and has the potential to decrease the influence of anything that she has to say. Having a professional demeanor and appearance is essential when working with legislators and participating in lobbying activities. This is where we on the left would do well to take a page out of the right's handbook.

Now, try not to think so much about whether my post was mean, but whether it is TRUE.

Moonbeam said...

I might also add that I am amazed by the irony that you write ALL SORTS of things on this blog about numerous politicians, CEOs, and entire groups of people (ie. conservatives, Republicans, etc.) that could just as easily be construed as being equally or more mean spirited than anything that I've written on here. Are harsh comments only appropriate for those whom you disapprove of?

Schadenfreude said...

moonbeam said: "I adamantly disagree with your defense of transgenderism, which, in my opinion, is a mental disorder."


There were groups who used to consider homosexuality a mental disorder, too. These are people of the same mind who once considered one black person to count as 3/5ths of a person.

You're in great company.


jay lassiter said...

hey schad,
how is the smoking cessation coming along?

Jill said...

I think Moonbeam is Ann Coulter.

Liz Patterson said...

Hey, this is the first time I've seen your blog, but I just had to tell you I *love* it!
Particularly this post- anything that's being done to help get the "powers-that-be" on our side is obviously great. So anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for the work you're doing; it means a lot to know there are other people out there trying to help. :-D

Also, I realize you're probably really busy, but is there any chance you'd be willing to send me your email address, so I could ask you *just* a few questions? I'm a high school senior trying to really get started in the world of political activism, and it seems like you'd be a great source for advice. Thanks!
-Liz (

Feminist Nomad said...

In response to Moonbeam's attack on NOW-NJ's president's appearance: First of all... wow. I don't know who you are, but you're definitely quite the shallow one. Secondly, that was an event that Ms. Porter was not originally signed up to be a part of, hence the casual clothing, as it was a spur of the moment, quite short appearance. I would like to state for the record that Ms. Porter had many public appearances over her tenure as NOW-NJ President, on national tv, in front of the State House, and at numerous benefit dinners with high ranking officials. At each one, she was professionally dressed in a suit, with hair and make-up nicely done. You obviously did not see her in action in person, and are judging her professionalism based on one poorly taken photo. I would suggest in the future to do your homework before blasting such accusations.

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