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Will NJ G/L/B/T gamblers take their gaming dollars to PA?

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Instead of finding ways to provide its gay and lesbian employees equitable
benefits packages comparable to their heterosexual counterparts, the
Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders has unanimously passed a
resolution supporting a state Senate and a General Assembly bill that aims
to circumvent, if not plainly subvert, New Jersey's historic civil unions

The Freeholder Board of this southern New Jersey county---that includes
Atlantic City, a town that bills itself as cosmopolitan and a "world-class
destination"---passed a resolution with unanimous support from its members
in favor of two state legislative initiatives that would allow local
officials to discriminate against same-sex couples by not performing civil
unions even though these same officials perform heterosexual civil ceremonies.

The chief sponsor of the freeholder's resolution, Sue Schilling of
Brigantine, NJ, is a member of the Community Presbyterian Church of
Brigantine which advertises its "welcoming" attitude towards gays and
lesbians. Schilling's sponsorship calls into question her faith and
whether or not it squares with the stated aims of her church. She is also
the freeholder representative to the Commission on Women, Disabled
Citizens Advisory Board, Human Services Advisory Council, and is a second
alternate to the New Jersey Association of Counties. (Schilling's official
email is listed as schilling_sue@aclink.org ).

Some legal experts say that the measure would be a violation of New
Jersey's anti-discrimination law, and would certainly undermine the intent
of the 4-3 New Jersey Supreme Court decision that forced the state
legislature to pass the civil unions law. In that decision, Justice Barry
T. Albin ruled for the majority that "the unequal dispensation of rights
and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated
under our state Constitution..."

The court found that the New Jersey legislature "...must either amend the
marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or create a parallel
statutory structure..."

The Atlantic County Freeholders' resolution, sponsored by Republican Schilling, clearly subverts the intent of the New Jersey Supreme Court and
is the worst kind of political pandering to religious and social
conservatives. But a unanimous vote by the county's freeholders---both
Republican and Democrat---under the ill-advised leadership of Schilling,
supports these two bills that would effectively ignore the rule of law in
New Jersey. The resolution urges passage of state legislation allowing NJ public officials---already ethically challenged as
amply demonstrated by recent corruption investigations and convictions by
the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, Chris Christie---to simply ignore the
law for political gain.

Presumably many supporters of the civil unions law will find Schilling's
and the Atlantic County Freeholder Board's action in supporting this
ill-conceived resolution, disgusting and reprehensible. Many will remember
the freeholders actions when they vote in the upcoming freeholder and
county executive elections scheduled for this coming November.

The negative publicity comes at a bad time for Atlantic City: the gaming mecca's dominance has been recently challenged by neighboring states that have legalized gambling. AC's latest gambling revenues were down significantly from the previous year. Many G/L/B/T New Jerseyans may further drive down revenues by taking their gambling dollars to Philadelphia, a much more gay-friendly and tolerant locale.

Constance Lavender
February 10, 2007
Updated 2/11/07 10am

Send a letter to the editor of the AC Press on this issue at:

Voice of the People

The Press Editorial Page
11 Devins Lane
Pleasantville, NJ 08232
For more information, call (609) 272-7266 or 272-7267


Constance Lavender
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Constance Lavender is an HIV-Positive pseudonymous freelance e-journalist from a little isle off the coast of Jersey; New Jersey, that is...

In the Best spirit of Silence Dogood and Benj. Franklin, Ms. Lavender believes that a free (more...)

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