MORRISTOWN – Loretta Weinberg has been an activist for a very long time. After all, she is 87.
As the featured speaker at a Women’s Equality Day celebration Friday night outside town hall, Weinberg, who left the state Senate last January, was true to form, exhorting Democrats and other like-minded souls to vote this fall.
Vote, that is, in favor of abortion rights and against a Republican party that she said has been enabling Donald Trump for six years. And now, she speculated, Trump is “on the cusp of being accused of espionage.”
Weinberg said that is not acceptable and that in November, “It is women who will send a message.”
The overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in June has both infuriated and energized many Dems. After a period of depression and anger, many hope the ruling will boost Democratic turnout this year. Hence the rally, which was officially commemorating when women got the right to vote in 1920, but was also very much about abortion rights.
There is some evidence that the court’s decision will indeed help Democrats.
Voters in Kansas, which is a conservative state, strongly backed abortion rights in a referendum earlier this month. And just last week, Dems won a special congressional election in a competitive New York state district.
Weinberg, like many of her generation, lamented how social gains made over the years are now threatened by conservatives. She mentioned not only abortion rights, but marriage equality.
This allowed her to take a swipe at Chris Christie, who, of course, lives just a few miles away in Mendham Township. Weinberg reminded a crowd of about 175 that the state Legislature had passed a marriage equality bill, but that Christie vetoed it. In the end, gay marriage came about via a state supreme court ruling.
Amalia Duarte, the chair of the Morris County Democrats, hosted the rally, but she actually did more than that. She provided a rich anecdote about Weinberg.
Duarte was a journalist in a previous life and as such, covered Teaneck – Weinberg’s home town – more than 30 years ago for the Bergen Record. She produced a newspaper clip of a story she wrote in which then citizen Weinberg was complaining that the township council was not giving budget data to the public.
Weinberg didn’t seem to recall the incident, but agreed that it certainly seemed true.
In the world of New Jersey politics, Republicans are fond of criticizing Phil Murphy for wanting to make New Jersey more like California.
Ending her speech. Weinberg turned that around a bit.
She said that when it comes to such social issues as women’s rights, it would be nice if “the rest of the country could become more like New Jersey.”