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Salena Lesniak, the wife and longtime partner of former state Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20), has died.
The couple had been together for 20 years when they married in 2018.
A civic activist and chair of the New Jersey Civil Rights Commission, Mrs. Lesniak, 43, was deeply committed to equal rights and a vital part of the Lesniaks’ commitment to social justice.
InsiderNJ extends heartfelt condolences to the former Senator.
“I loved Salena and she loved me,” Lesniak said. “She loved decorating our new shore home and cooking and entertaining. She was was a hero for LGBT Rights, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights and Animal Rights. I am so sad. She was so happy.”
The senator was himself released from the hospital on Wednesday afternoon and returning from the couple’s shore home to Elizabeth.
“She was one of my closest friends in the world who helped to found Garden State Equality and leaves a huge legacy,” said GSE Founder Steven Goldstein (pictured with the Lesniaks, above).
“I’m devastated,” he added.
Governor Phil Murphy issued a statement.
“Salena was a class act and, along with Ray, a tireless advocate for countless New Jerseyans who needed a champion,” said the governor. “If a life is to be measured by the positive impact it had on others, Salena led a full life, indeed. Tammy and I send our warmest thoughts to Senator Lesniak and all who held Salena dear.”
Added Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie:
“On behalf of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to Senator Lesniak on the tragic and untimely passing of his wife and longtime partner Salena Lesniak. A highly regarded activist and change maker, Salena partnered with Ray and fellow advocates on many causes they both cared about deeply, from LGBTQ rights to treatment of animals to protecting our environment. Rest in Peace Salena Lesniak.”
Senate President Sweeney offered his condolences:
“I want to express my heartfelt condolences to my friend and former colleague Raymond Lesniak and to Salena Lesniak’s family, friends and admirers for our terrible loss. Raymond and Salena were a loving couple with a shared passion and commitment for justice, equality and human rights. Salena was a selfless woman who made a real and lasting impact on the lives of so many people in countless ways. Salena will remain with us in our hearts and minds.”