Dr. Louie Crew, Integrity's founder, sat in the back of the room. The fruits of tending the orchard of justice were born as both Bishops Diocesan from New Jersey spoke eloquently for marriage equality. This bill, if enacted, would bring New Jersey from a "civil union" state to one with full marriage equality. Many of us sat glued to audio stream as Bishop Mark Beckwith of the Diocese of Newark and Bishop George Councell of the Diocese of New Jersey testified before the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Julian Bond testified in favor and brought with him a letter from letter from Representative John Lewis also supporting the bill.
After the testimonies were heard many explained their votes. Once again it was a African-American woman who pleaded our case most eloquently. Representative Nia Gill spoke of the need to bring civil rights to all who are denied their constitutional rights.
In the New Jersey Daily Record, Bishop Beckwith's Op-Ed piece was published the yesterday as well.
"As much as marriage equality is about civil rights, it is also about the importance of supporting family values,” said Beckwith. To have the law, and one's community, recognize and support a family, especially in times of crisis (which the current Civil Union law does not provide), provides a level of stability for everyone. And the marriage equality bill honors the religious and civil rights of those who are licensed to perform marriages, but are opposed to same-gender marriages, by not requiring them to do so,"
"Before returning to New Jersey three years ago, I served a church in Massachusetts, which was the first state to introduce same-gender marriage. Since 2004, when the new law went into effect, Massachusetts has continued to lead the country as the state with the lowest divorce rate. The feared threat to marriage has not materialized. Families are stronger when all families are given the full support of the law. New Jersey should do the same."
The measure is expected to come to the floor of the full Legislature this week.
Houghton campaigned extensively for Mariage Equality in New York State where he is a resident and will continue to cover events in New jersey as well.