NJ Assemblyman comes out as he sponsors marriage equality bill
It’s not that New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) wasn’t out to most people that he knew, it was that no one asked, and he didn’t tell. But now that he has stepped forward with legislation to allow gays to marry, he took the step of publicly coming out. (Star Ledger):
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) said yesterday he has never hidden his sexual orientation, but his sponsorship of the marriage equality bill seemed to raise the question in the minds of others.
…Gusciora, 46, acknowledged he is gay during an appearance Sunday on the New Jersey Network news show “On the Record.” His official biography in Fitzgerald’s Legislative Manual makes no mention of his family or personal life. He was first elected to the Assembly in 1995.
Gusciora, who is single, is the first openly gay member of the Legislature and the highest-profile politician to acknowledge his sexual orientation since Gov. James E. McGreevey resigned from office two years ago in a scandal over an extramarital affair with a male aide.
“Reed’s coming out has enormous historical and policy consequences,” said Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality. Gay rights advocates in states such as California and New York have had more success in the legislative process, Goldstein said, because of the personal impact openly gay lawmakers can have on the views of their colleagues.
Visibility matters in the struggle for civil equality. Being an advocate while hiding your orientation doesn’t allow your constituents to understand that you have a stake in that struggle — and that you have nothing to be ashamed of. It makes all the difference in the world for your peers to know that their colleague in the legislative body is the same respected person they were before they came out.
When you put a face on gay America — we are everywhere — it makes it that much harder for those who oppose our rights to demonize, and for those who don’t have it on their radar to keep their heads in the sand.