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Largest NJ gay rights group will no longer give to Democrats

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The largest gay-rights advocacy group in New Jersey has announced it will no longer give money to the Democratic Party.

The move follows the state legislature’s failure last month to legalize gay marriage and amid growing signs that the effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is already faltering.

“No political party has a record good enough on LGBT civil rights that it can rightfully claim to be entitled to our money on a party-wide basis,” said the chairman of Garden State Equality, Steven Goldstein, as quoted at PolitickerNJ.com.

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“No longer will we let any political party take our money and volunteers with one hand, and slap us in the face with the other when we seek full equality,” Goldstein added.

Garden State Equality’s declaration comes amid mounting frustration in the gay community over President Barack Obama’s approach to gay-rights issues. While the president has repeatedly promised to repeal the gay military ban and has opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, activists are growing disillusioned with the administration’s slow-paced approach to enacting legislation that would advance gay rights.

The change in policy is not officially targeted at the Democrats, as the group says it plans to stop donating to all political parties. But since Demcorats received the vast majority of donations, the ban will mostly affect the Democratic Party.

“Is this a broadside at the Democratic Party?” asked Goldstein. “Of course it is.”

From now on, Garden State Equality will only donate to individual candidates who support gay rights, and to organizations that support gay marriage and other gay-rights initiatives.

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And the group is urging its 65,000 members to do the same, the Associated Press reports.

Gay-rights blogger John Aravosis says he expects this to become a trend in other states, as the effort to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy appears to be faltering just a few weeks after President Barack Obama pledged in his State of the Union address to work with lawmakers this year to repeal the law.

“Things are only going to get worse when, come this November, the community and our allies see that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell hasn’t been repealed, even though the President promised in his State of the Union that it would be, and even though [US House Rep.] Barney [Frank] said that it would be this spring,” Aravosis wrote at AmericaBlog.

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“I suspect we’ll see other state gay rights groups follow NJ’s lead,” Aravosis wrote.

But Garden State Equality points to issues closer to home for its decision to stop donating to the Democratic Party.

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Last month, New Jersey’s state Senate voted down a measure that would have legalized gay marriage, with a number of Democrats siding against the proposed law.

“With the exception of Speaker (Shelia) Oliver, who has had a long record of being a champion of equality, nobody in the Democratic Party’s leadership reached out to us,” Goldstein said.

According to the Associated Press, Garden State Equality had expected the measure to pass, but the election of Republican Chris Christie last fall to the governor’s office weakened support for the measure when it came up for a vote in January.

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Garden State Equality estimates it has given some $500,000 to the Democratic Party since 2005.


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