NJ Marriage Equality: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

Originally posted in the GW Discourse blog.

Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest civil rights group, announced today that they will no longer make contributions to political parties, and they are urging their members to follow suit.

This controversial move is in response to New Jersey’s failure to pass same-sex marriage through the legislature.

“No political party has a record good enough on LGBT civil rights that it can rightfully claim to be entitled to our money on a party-wide basis… No longer will we let any political party take our money and volunteers with one hand, and slap us in the face with the other when we seek full equality.” – Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality.

Garden State Equality will now only contribute money to individual candidates and organizations that support LGBT rights. But who really suffers from this – the parties, or NJ’s equality movement?

It is certainly understandable that groups like GSE are angered with NJ Democrats for voting against marriage equality. And the Democratic party is by no means the party of LGBT rights; it’s simply the best option the LGBT community has. But if the Democrats strengthen their support for recognition of same-sex relationships, and vote to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, it’ll be Garden State Equality that loses. They’ll have more money to spend on their preferred candidates, but they’ll lose their voice if they stop donating to the Democratic party. Contributions to individual candidates can only go so far. At the end of the day, most legislators (especially newer members) need to remain loyal to the party in order to succeed. And if that party is shunned by GSE, why should those legislators take GSE’s views into account?

It’s important to stand by your principles, and support only those who support you. But GSE is playing a risky game, and they’ve got a lot more to lose from this deal than the Democrats do. I honor their intentions, but I’m not sure this is the best way to affect change.

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