We Won’t Go Back! How and why the Fight to Protect Marriage Equality Continues

By Louise Walpin & Marsha Shapiro

A decade of marriage equality in New Jersey: What a joy on October 21, 2013 at 12:01AM, when as the first couple to legally wed in NJ, we broke the glass (a Jewish tradition). We vowed this marked an end to discrimination and that subsequent generations will be able to marry the one they love. Now, we fear this right may be taken away from us, by the same zealots that seek to ban books, out trans youth, remove discussion of families other than “one man and one woman” from the school curriculum and so on. Justice Clarence Thomas has already said that SCOTUS should reconsider same sex marriage rulings.

For us, this is very personal. We have been together for 34 years. We have 3 adult children, and sadly watched our fourth child, born with severe congenital anomalies, pass shortly before his 21st birthday. We are grandparents. If this isn’t a marriage; what is? How do our grandchildren tell classmates they spent time with “their grandmas” (their parent’s two moms) if they are not allowed to talk about that in school?

We fought for marriage equality in the legislature from 2009-2013, and were plaintiffs in the Lambda Legal/GSE suit that won marriage equality for NJ. We were referred to in the media as “the faces of marriage equality in NJ,” yet we suffered the indignities of our relationship being invalidated in hospitals. Registrars listed our marital status as “single” or “unknown” because no one ever understood the inherently unequal “civil union,” a flawed category NJ initiated in 1997. As a result, we lacked the assurance that we’d be contacted in a medical emergency as is taken for granted by legally married couples. While planning our son’s funeral, which no parent should ever have to do, the funeral director asked a myriad of questions about “civil unions” and required proof of our relationship. Imagine having to explain your relationship while you are grieving the death of your child. When looking for jobs, I had to ask prospective employers if they offered “civil union healthcare benefits” because not all did. In essence, I was identifying my sexual orientation to prospective employers before I was hired, because that “civil union door” was for same-sex relationships only. We were also denied the 1,138 federal benefits that are associated with legal marriage. We listened to gay/lesbian teens voice suicidal ideation because their state viewed them as unequal and they feared they’d never be able to marry or have a family. We do NOT want to go back to those times.

We also know all too well how Republican leadership impacted our rights. Despite passing marriage equality in both NJ Houses in 2012, then Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill and even Republicans who voted for marriage refused to cast a vote to overturn the veto. Then there were the 5 years of endless rallies, testimonies, and depositions to even reach that point.

A Blue NJ is not a guarantee. If the R’s gain 5 seats in the Senate it will be split; 6 seats will result in a split Assembly. Re-elect Senator Andrew Zwicker who has been a strong advocate for full equality for all New Jerseyans, including the LGBTQ+ community. He was instrumental in working with Governor Murphy on the Executive Order which designates NJ as a safe zone for Trans people. He recently sponsored bills to “ban book bans” and to ensure protections for people receiving gender-affirming health care. His running mates have likewise shown their support for our community. Ensure the entire LD-16 team wins in November so these bills can become law. Elect members of the LGBTQIA community including Assembly candidates Raya Arbiol and Luanne Peterpaul, Esq., and their respective LD12 & LD11 teams. They are also all committed to protecting reproductive rights, senior rights, the environment, small businesses, and ending gun violence. Work to get out the vote and elect Democrats. Create a Blue Tsunami in November. We’ve reached the promised land: We do NOT want to go back!

Louise Walpin & Marsha Shapiro

Louise & Marsha, strong advocates for marriage equality, were the first same sex couple to legally wed in NJ. They ranked #10 in the most recent LGBT Power List.

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2 responses to “We Won’t Go Back! How and why the Fight to Protect Marriage Equality Continues”

  1. Marriage between a man and a woman was instituted by God with Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:24 states: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”.

  2. The only zealots I see are those of the LGBTQ persuasion cult. They are trying to make this a new religion by legislating “marriage equality” while tearing down traditional marriage, destroying families through the multi-BILLION DOLLAR family court racketeering enterprise, and by confusing and abusing our children with the Trans agenda that shouldn’t even be imposed on adults until they turn 25 because of biological issues that the frontal part of the human brain–that is the reasoning and decision-making part of the brain–is not fully developed until age 25. Even college kids should not be subjected to the Transgenda agenda.

    The whole “marriage equality” fraud is a sick, demented, perverted, Marxist construct to destroy families, and ultimately destroy America.

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