Earlier this afternoon the New Jersey Senate defeated bill S1967 that would have granted full marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples after nearly three hours of debate by a vote of 20 to 14.
Senator Nia Gill (D-Essex County) gave one of the most powerful speeches in support of marriage equality during this afternoon's proceedings.
Gill is a true ally and the sole black member of the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee. She eloquently outlined the separate and unequal nature of civil unions, expressed the need for healthcare for same-sex partners, and articulated why marriage equality is a civil rights issue: "Just because this is not a racial issue doesn't mean it's not a civil rights issue", said Gill.
Today's testimony echoed sentiments expressed by Gill on the issue back in December when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-6 to pass the marriage equality bill.
“Each side has an emotional story to tell. So I am not involved in that. But I am involved in how does this strip people of the equality under the law, said Gill.
And as an African-American and as a woman who would jealously guard all the civil rights struggles, this is a civil rights struggle on the magnitude and importance for the people who have died for the right to vote, for the people who have died to allow women the right to vote. And if I took a different stand, which would be a more traditional stand, that the community that identifies with me wants me to take, then I will have breached the tradition and the trust of the elders and the ancestors. And so I vote for the equality of marriage because I believe in the constitution.”
Kudos to Sen. Gill for standing up for equality and on the right side of history. Lambda Legal is already poised to take the case before the NJ Supreme Court. This fight is far from over.
See how all of the Senators present voted via NJ.com. I will post video of Gill's speech as it becomes available.