Pride Reflection: The LGBT+ Community in NJ04 needs new leadership in Congress

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As Pride month comes to a close today, I would like to take the time to both reflect and lay out a call to action for NJ’s LGBT+ community and their allies with regard to the Congressional leadership in NJ’s Fourth Congressional district.

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The Stonewall Riots were almost 50 years ago, during a time when anti-sodomy laws were still on the books and police raids targeted safe havens for the LGBTQ+ community. We’ve made great strides since then. Not only has public opinion shifted to promote acceptance of and love for our LGBTQ+ friends and family, but our laws and institutions have changed as well. Anti-sodomy laws have been challenged and found unconstitutional. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” has been repealed. The Defense of Marriage Act is no more, and two years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges guaranteed marriage equality for everyone across all 50 states.

Despite these strides, we have not seen a change a leadership in our Congressional district to reflect the progressive values that we have specific to LGBT+ issues.

We still have a Congressman representing our district whose views on the LGBT+ community are better suited for 1717 not 2017.

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Rather than celebrate the incredible progress made for the LGBT+ community, Congressman Chris Smith has only doubled down on his retrograde legislative stances. He consistently earns a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which tracks elected officials’ voting and sponsorship records on issues that affect LGBTQ+ people. Every opportunity that he has had to vote against inclusion, respect, and recognition of his LGBTQ+ constituents, he’s taken it. He voted against a version of the Violence Against Women Act because it recognized the LGBTQ+ population as one that experiences a particular kind of domestic, often intrafamily, violence and is therefore in need of protection and resources. He can’t even support the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, a bill named after a young NJ man who took his own life during his freshman year at Rutgers after his roommate cyberbullied him for being gay.The fight for dignity and equality for LGBTQ+ people in our country is far from over. Rather, the current administration, as influenced by extremists like Mike Pence, Ted Cruz, and Chris Smith, threaten to undo the hard-fought progress and the gains made by the LGBTQ community.

Chris Smith’s antiquated positions have real life consequences. At the most basic level, he has said to our LGBT+ family members and neighbors in our district that their rights are not human rights and that is simply unacceptable.

Please take a moment and watch/listen to some of our neighbors speaking about this very issue.

It is time that NJ’s #FightingFourth district had leadership that embraces the humanity and rights of every member of our community. This is one of the most important reasons I am running for Congress to unseat Chris Smith. We need leadership that stands up for bold, progressive values and is unequivocally committed to the protection and promotion of justice for all, regardless of who we choose to love, marry, and celebrate our lives with.

Given the above, I hope that you will join in our grassroots movement to bring change to NJ’s #FightingFourth. To learn more about the #Keady4Congress campaign, to sign up to volunteer, or to make a contribution, please visit www.jimkeady.com. If you have specific questions for me, please feel free to email me at jim@jimkeady.com or call/text me at 732.988.7322.