Don’t Buy Payne Jr.’s Weak Defense on LGBTQ Equality

Don’t Buy Payne Jr.’s Weak Defense on LGBTQ Equality

As a proud gay man and the former chair of the New Jersey Young Democrats LGBTQ caucus, I take issue with the defense of Donald Payne Jr’s LGBTQ record offered by his supporters.

In his short piece “Here is the truth about Payne’s support for the LGBTQ Community” published on November 10th, Reginald Bledsoe claimed that progressive challenger Imani Oakley’s criticism of Payne Jr.’s LGBTQ record was tokenizing.

As a strong Imani Oakley supporter, I know this couldn’t be further from the truth. The criticism of Donald Payne Jr.’s complete lack of leadership on LGBTQ equality was entirely warranted.

Bledsoe claimed that the Oakley campaign was lying about Payne Jr.’s record. Where? Is it a lie that Payne Jr. Refused to publicly support marriage equality when he first ran in 2012 — despite it being the right thing to do? Despite the fact that President Obama and the majority of Democrats supported it?

That’s not a lie. Here’s the video evidence.

Were Imani’s claims about the rest of Payne’s record lies? Again, no.

Despite Payne Jr.’s best efforts to cover his tracks, the truth is clear. Until Oakley called him out for his failures, Payne Jr. refused to cosponsor multiple important pieces of LGBTQ rights legislation.

Only after Oakley publicly shamed Payne Jr. did he quickly sign on to a few more bills. That’s not leadership or support — it’s political cowardice and expediency.

In the face of a conservative Supreme Court and continued attacks on LGBTQ equality, our community can’t afford to rely on politicians like Payne Jr.

We need representatives who are proactive and bold in defense of our community. Payne Jr. is neither.

I’ve known Imani Oakley for years. She and I marched together in Garden State Equality’s Equality Walk in Montclair, and she has never wavered in her support of our community.

Payne Jr. has wavered on many things in his career–including LGBTQ equality. It’s time for New Jersey to elect a dependable, progressive advocate we can count on. It’s time to elect Imani Oakley to congress.

By Martin Page



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