Gottheimer Speaks at Pride Ceremony, Stands with Local LGBTQ Community Leaders, Calls for End to LGBTQ Discrimination and Inequality

Jun 01, 2019
Press

Praises House passing of the Gottheimer-cosponsored bipartisan Equality Act

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. – Today, Saturday, June 1, 2019, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) spoke at the Ridgewood Pride Ceremony and praised the recent passing of H.R. 5 – the Equality Act, commended the 2013 New Jersey state and 2015 national recognition of marriage equality, and called to end LGBTQ discrimination and inequality nationwide.

Today’s Ridgewood Pride Ceremony also marked the installation of a new flagpole to fly the LGBTQ pride flag in Van Neste Square Memorial Park.

Gottheimer, a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, kicked off Pride Month alongside local elected officials, including Ridgewood Mayor Ramon Hache, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, and others, LGBTQ community leaders, and the Ridgewood High School Gay Straight Alliance. This year’s Pride Month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Manhattan.

“We need to take this moment to honor all the champions who helped raise this rainbow flag, here in our state and across the nation. It is a vital symbol, for all of us, that hate and intolerance have no place in our communities,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “But we unfortunately know that the LGBTQ community continues to face bullying, legal discrimination, and inequality. Our work to combat this is far from over.”

On May 17, 2019, the House passed the bipartisan Equality Act (H.R. 5), cosponsored by Gottheimer. The Equality Act amends the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and in the federal jury system.

The Equality Act included Gottheimer’s bipartisan bill – the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act – which amends the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prohibit credit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Right now, in 30 states, LGBTQ people are at risk of being fired, refused housing or denied services simply because of who they are.

Fifteen states, including New Jersey, already prohibit credit discrimination based on sexual orientation, but that leaves thirty-five states that do not.

“The Equality Act was an historic passage for the House to help fix these many issues. Now, the same fight must be taken up in the Senate, and I urge my colleagues there to pass this legislation swiftly – because we need equality now,” said Gottheimer. “There’s a reason that these bills are bipartisan. Ending discrimination is not a Republican or Democratic issue – it’s a good for America issue. And we must continue making progress toward equality and acceptance and respect for the entire LGBTQ community – here in New Jersey and throughout our country.”

Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

It’s great to be here in Ridgewood as we kick off Pride month. Thank you, Mayor Hache and the Ridgewood High School Gay Straight Alliance, for having me here today. And thank you to Attorney General Grewal, Freeholders Amoroso, Zur, and Sullivan, Sheriff Cureton, County Executive Tedesco, Assemblyman Rooney, and everyone else here today – for the work you do for our community.

As we all know, 50 years ago this month, the Stonewall riots in Manhattan started this movement that we are finally able to celebrate here today. But the work is far from over.

I’m looking forward to seeing this flag being raised here this morning – on this new flagpole –because it’s a vital symbol, for all of us, that hate and intolerance have no place in our communities.

I know that other towns in our area, including Westwood, Glen Rock, Lyndhurst, and Rochelle Park, have similarly sent the welcome signal to the LGBTQ community. That’s progress we should all be proud of.  Those are the Jersey values we should all celebrate.

We need to take this moment – here in Van Neste Square Park today – to honor all the champions who helped raise this rainbow flag, here in our state and across the nation.

Back in 2004, the State of New Jersey offered domestic partnerships – before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and before federal workplace protections against LGBTQ people.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of equal Civil Unions and then, in 2013, in Garden State Equality v. Dow, ruled that marriage – not partnerships, not civil unions – must be our state law.

With New Jersey state recognition in 2013, and now with marriage equality across the country, same-sex couples have the right to marry and be treated equally under the law.

I couldn’t be more proud of that decision and to be from a state that understood that tolerance is not the same as respect, and it’s not the same as equality.

As Harvey Milk once said “It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom.”

Marriage equality for our LGBTQ friends, family, and neighbors means that we are building healthier, happier, more successful communities for all.

We unfortunately know that the LGBTQ community continues to face bullying, legal discrimination, and inequality.

That’s why, as a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, I was incredibly proud that on May 17th, the House passed H.R. 5, – a bipartisan bill called the Equality Act – which I was an original cosponsor of. The Equality Act amends the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

H.R. 5 included my bipartisan bill – the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act – which amends the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prohibit credit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Right now, in 30 states, LGBTQ people are at risk of being fired, refused housing or denied services simply because of who they are.

Thankfully, fifteen states, including New Jersey, already prohibit credit discrimination based on sexual orientation, but that leaves thirty-five states that don’t.

The Equality Act was an historic passage for the House to help fix these many issues. Now, the same fight must be taken up in the Senate, and I urge my colleagues there to pass this legislation swiftly – because we need equality now.

There’s a reason that these bills are bipartisan. Ending discrimination is not a Republican or Democratic issue –it’s a good for America issue.

Unfortunately, we know that legal discrimination and inequality are not the only obstacles faced by the LGBTQ community.  Our children and young adults still face unacceptable discrimination and bullying. LGBTQ kids are twice as likely than their peers to be kicked, shoved, or assaulted.

Sixty-eight percent of LGBTQ youth say they have heard negative and hurtful things from elected leaders about their community, and a quarter say their biggest concern in life is that their families will not accept them.

As a parent, these statistics are absolutely heartbreaking. Every child should feel that he or she is loved and that they belong.

And most sobering: LGBTQ youth are more than three times as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers.

Here in Ridgewood, we continue to honor the memory and legacy of Tyler Clementi – who felt driven to suicide because he didn’t believe the world was going to change toward acceptance.

That’s why we must continue making progress toward equality and acceptance and respect for the entire LGBTQ community – here in New Jersey and throughout our country – the greatest country in the world.

As parents, and as leaders, it is our job to make sure we keep making New Jersey, this nation, and the world a better place for all of our children and for all of our different communities.

I stand here today, with all of you, to commit to doing just that.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

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