By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Garden State Equality, which has an office in Asbury Park, held a press conference on the city beachfront July 5 to formally endorse Democrat Phil Murphy for governor.
Murphy won the Democratic primary handily last month, receiving more than 100,000 votes more than his closest competitor.
Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality, praised Murphy as someone who will have the backs of the LGBT community.
He said having an ally in Trenton has been missing during the Christie administration.
“That is about to change, we will never, ever have to worry that we have a governor who will do the right thing,” he said.
Fuscarino said although many people mistakenly believe that issues facing the LGBT community disappeared with the passage of marriage equality, there are still concerns facing the group including homelessness, drug abuse and bullying.
Fuscarino took the opportunity to take a shot at Governor Chris Christie saying, “We have the biggest bully of them all in the governor’s office.”
But he and several other speakers said Murphy will change that.
Fuscarino said Murphy represents the “embodiment of making people’s lives better” noting that he is a member of the NAACP and when Garden State Equality asked if he would meet with them, Murphy’s response was “where and when.”
After listening to several speakers offer him high praise, Murphy took the podium saying, “I am humbled by your endorsement.”
He also noted that it comes with a big responsibility.
Taking a jab at Governor Chris Christie’s recent beach controversy, he said, “I am honored and happy to be having photos taken at the beach with so many others.”
Giving a nod to Mayor John Moor who was at the press conference he called Asbury Park one of the most inclusive cities in the state.
Murphy invoked a saying his mother taught him, “You are known by the company you keep, I’m keeping great company today.”
He also likened his governorship, if elected as a marriage, not a wedding which is a one day event.
“This is a marriage…I will be on your side,” he promised.
He also said historically governors have never been more important in America.
“We have a flat out hostile president and government in Washington. We’re going to have to band together. It’s too simplistic to stop at Trump, it’s bigger than that,” he said speaking of the fact that there are large parts of the country that are not supportive of LGBT rights.
If elected Murphy promised to appoint a strong attorney general who will stand up to Washington for the rights of not only the LGBT community but immigrants as well.
“We need leadership with a steel backbone…who will say ‘Mr. President you will not do this to the Garden State,’” he said.