News :: Politics

Founder & Longtime Head to Leave N.J.’s Garden State Equality

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Jan 4, 2013
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One of the most prominent gay rights activists in New Jersey announced this week that he would be stepping down as the head of a leading LGBT advocacy group to take a job at Rutgers-Newark University, NJ.com reports.

Steve Goldstein has been the chair of Garden State Equality since he formed the organization in 2004. Ever since, he has been in the forefront of any issue that pertained to the rights of LGBT New Jerseyans. The 50-year-old activist will depart on Jan. 20 and start his position at Rutgers-Newark on Jan. 23.

"Steven has long been among New Jersey’s most compelling voices and steadfast leaders for the public interest," Philip Yeagle, Rutgers-Newark’s interim chancellor, said in a statement. "His political savvy and legendary tenacity has made him known in Trenton and across the state for making big things happen."

Goldstein has named Troy Stevenson, Garden State Equality’s managing director for advocacy, as his successor. Stevenson, who worked on the field staff of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in Pennsylvania, will replace Goldstein on Jan. 21.

Goldstein wrote to supporters that he was "overjoyed that Garden State Equality’s Board has unanimously selected Troy Stevenson to be the new Chair and CEO of Garden State Equality. He called him an "extraordinary field operative, political talent and all-around human being. Working by my side, he is the person I someday wanted to take my place, which you bet he can.

"This is hardly the end of an era," Goldstein continued. "Working by my side, Troy is the person I someday wanted to take my place, which you bet he can. So many of you know and love him. He is an extraordinary field operative, political talent and all-around human being."

Goldstein also revealed plans to help his partner Daniel start a business and "purse his dream just as he has supported me all these years at Garden State Equality." Goldstein will hardly be severing all ties with the group, which has grown to become the most powerful LGBT lobbyist for LGBT causes in Trenton, the state capital.

With 124,850 members, Garden State Equality is one of New Jersey’s largest civil rights group. Goldstein will serve on its executive board as chair emeritus.

While Goldstein headed the organization, he helped see through passage of 213 laws at the state and local levels, including the 2004 statewide law that allows domestic partnerships for same-sex couples; a 2006 law that bumped up the status to civil unions; and the "Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights" in 2011, the most comprehensive school anti-bullying law in the country.

Still, he was never able to achieve his ultimate goal of full marriage equality. At one point he got tantalizingly close, but even though the State Legislature voted for it, GOP Gov. Chris Christie vetoed it when it his his desk. The governor has said that he would prefer if the measure were brought before voters, something Garden State has opposed.

After the announcement of his resignation, praise poured in from around the state.

"Steven has been the voice, the face of the push for marriage equality in the State of New Jersey," state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), a sponsor of the bill to legalize gay marriage, said. "He has been single-minded of purpose, and he has a personality that goes with being such a strong advocate. Rutgers is very lucky to have him and the gay rights community will find a new strong voice until we get marriage equality here in New Jersey."

Goldstein will continue to teach legislative advocacy at Rutgers Law School. In his new position, he will work on government relations and communications.

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