by Richard A. Lyon
TFP-ANF members and supporters gathered early in front of the New Jersey state Capitol to campaign in favor of Traditional Marriage.
The media and political rigmarole surrounding New Jersey Senate Bill 1967 left pro-family advocates smelling a rat, suspecting some kind of deal had been made to sweep the same-sex "marriage" bill through at the last minute.
The American TFP and ANF organized a three-prong effort to counter this attack on Traditional Marriage.
After the defeat last November of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine – an avowed supporter of same-sex “marriage” – traditional marriage advocates feared there would be a last-ditch legislative effort to redefine marriage before the new governor assumed office on January 19. Indeed, incoming Gov. Christopher Christie promised to veto any such legislation.
With the media – true to form – building hype for Senate Bill 1967, it came as a bit of a surprise when, on December 8, the very sponsors withdrew the bill which had already been slated for a vote the following day as they sensed they lacked sufficient support.
As the January 19 deadline approached, liberal online websites, including The New York Times’ “Local” blog for Maplewood, New Jersey, resumed beating the drums calling for an eleventh hour attempt to pass the bill. On January 5, outgoing Senate President Richard Codey, another emphatic supporter of the bill, confidently scheduled a vote for January 7, which was effectively the legislative deadline since the Assembly and governor would need the remaining time to act upon the bill.
All this media and political rigmarole left pro-family advocates smelling a rat, suspecting some kind of deal might have been made. On the very evening when the Senate vote was announced, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) circulated an email sounding the alarm asking supporters to contact their New Jersey senators.
The next morning, January 6, the American TFP and ANF organized a three-prong effort: a nationwide email campaign, calling upon Garden State residents to contact their senators and for all to pray; a phone tree, whereby local activists were engaged to call fellow residents that could not be reached by email; and a vanload of TFP and ANF members would heed the call from New Jersey Family First and show up in person at the New Jersey State House to help in any way possible.
Just before midnight that day, a TFP-ANF delegation arrived in Trenton, staying at a hotel within walking distance of the Capitol. The next morning, we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise which glistened off the Capitol’s gold dome. As we scouted the area just after 7:00 a.m., television crews were parking their vans right outside the main entrance.
An hour later, traditional family supporters – identified by red clothing – gathered in the cafe located in the Capitol basement, where we received word that same-sex “marriage” advocates donning blue “marriage equality” shirts were already lining up for admission to the Senate public gallery. Most of us headed up to join the line, even though the galley would only open at 1:00 p.m. for the vote scheduled an hour later. We were outnumbered nearly two-to-one.
Anti-Traditional Marriage advocates, showing their "equality" in various forms.
Supporters of Traditional Marriage read our pamphlet "10 Reasons Why Homosexual 'Marriage' is Harmful and Must be Opposed."
Traditional Marriage Supporters discuss the issue while waiting to enter the Senate gallery.
At this stage, our opponents began to gather outside the building entrance, where they had also set up tables. We later learned from the police that they had obtained a permit. By 10:00 a.m. there were about 200 “blue-shirts” and plenty of media coverage. All morning, dozens of them could be seen in the Senate corridors, approaching both senators and assemblymen as they made their way to and from committee meetings.
I witnessed a pro-homosexual activist grabbing the hand of an assemblyman and held it all the while as he walked a considerable distance down the long corridor trying to elicit support for the bill. Once the activist finally let go and was out of earshot, the politician commented to his assistant: “Don’t they realize that, by acting this way, they are turning people off?”
While one of our members, a New Jersey native, waited in line with fellow traditional marriage supporters, two of us visited the Senate offices to distribute copies of our flyer “10 Reasons Why Homosexual ‘Marriage’ is Harmful and Must be Opposed.”
At the front desk, the receptionist was taking a call: “But are you in favor or against?” She had a sticky note on which she was keeping a tally. After the call ended, we inquired as to the nature of this call, and she admitted that it was regarding the same-sex “marriage” bill, and that she had been receiving many calls. However, she would not say which side had the majority.
Meanwhile most of our group campaigned on a street corner with considerable pedestrian and vehicle traffic just two blocks up from our ideological opponents. For almost the whole two hours we spent at this spot, we received a steady stream of support. After breaking for lunch, we headed for the same area outside the State Capitol which by this time had been abandoned by the “marriage equality” rally.
Since the Senate vote was scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m., we gathered at this time to pray the rosary. We then returned briefly to the same location where we held the morning campaign, but were soon accosted by individuals from the “blue-shirt” crowd, including one woman who attempted to grab one of our signs. To avoid further incidents from angry same-sex “marriage” advocates – one is tempted to ask them, “where is the love?” – we headed to a busy intersection with little foot traffic and awaited the outcome of the Senate vote. Once again, we were encouraged by the steady stream of honks as motorists responded to our signs reading “Honk in Support of Traditional Marriage.”
For unannounced reasons, the Senate only began proceedings at 3:00 p.m. A lengthy debate ensued, in which bill advocates were generally more articulate than its opponents, albeit they employed predominantly emotional arguments. Finally, the vote was taken at 5:30 p.m. The bill was defeated 20-14, with 5 abstentions.
It was impossible to hold back the elation of traditional family supporters in the Senate gallery. They let out a loud cheer when the results were known. On the street, we opted to keep a low profile. As we collected our bags from the hotel lobby, there was a steady flow of gloomy “blue-shirts” heading to the same hotel.
Curiously enough, even though the street outside the Capitol was lined by over a dozen television crew vans, coverage of the outcome was rather subdued on the local news, let alone national news. How would the media have reacted if they had obtained the outcome they expected? Perhaps we may never know exactly what took place behind closed doors in regards to this bill.
Nonetheless, all defenders of traditional marriage should be heartened by the fact that God undoubtedly blessed these efforts, thereby defeating yet another attempt to redefine marriage in our country.