NEWARK, N.J. – As the LGBTQ community continues to fight for equal rights and greater acceptance across the country while pushing back against the Trump Administration’s anti-LGBTQ policies, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today vowed to continue working to support and protect the rights of all individuals – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – at a roundtable he hosted with LGBTQ leaders from across New Jersey. June is LGBTQ Pride Month.

“When I was in the state legislature and authored the state’s first hate crime bill, I made sure protections based on sexual orientation were included,” said Sen. Menendez. “Throughout my career, I’ve fought to ensure the rights of LGBTQ individuals are protected and advanced, and that their contributions are recognized and celebrated. While the Trump Administration attacks the LGBTQ community and threatens to roll back progress, I will continue working side by side with LGBTQ leaders to ensure everyone is treated equally and with respect and dignity.”

LGBTQ elected officials and representatives from advocacy organizations, including Garden State Equality, the LGBT Rain Foundation, and the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, attended today’s roundtable held at the Senator’s Newark office.

Attendees included:

  • Maplewood South Orange Board of Education Member Shannon Cuttle
  • Maplewood Committeeman Dean Dafis
  • Christian Fuscarino; Garden State Equality, Executive Director
  • Elaine Helms; LGBT RAIN Foundation, Executive Director
  • Danni Newbury; Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs
  • Kathy O’Brien; Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, Executive Director
  • Neptune Mayor Carol Rizzo
  • Elizabeth Schedl; Hudson Pride, Executive Director
  • Jayson Scott; Ours Institute, Interim Executive Director
  • Axel Torres; Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, Senior Public Policy Associate
  • Carol Watchler; Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Robt Seda-Schreiber; Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, Chief Activist
  • Union County Freeholder Rebecca Williams
  • Gary Paul Wright; African American Office of Gay Concerns, Executive Director
  • South Orange Councilman Bob Zuckerman

Menendez Hosts LGBTQ Roundtable in Honor of Pride Month

Advocacy leaders discussed pressing issues such as the prevalence of homelessness experienced by LGBTQ youth; the need for greater access to quality and affordable health and social services, especially mental health care; data inclusion; and the need for increased HIV/AIDS preventative and treatment services, particularly for black and Latino men.

Sen. Menendez has long supported the rights of the LGBTQ community.

He is a cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination in places of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He also cosponsored the Student Non-Discrimination Act, a piece of legislation that would explicitly prohibit public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The senator also cosponsored the Fair and Equal Housing Act, which adds sexual orientation to the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes.

Sen. Menendez voted against the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court for fear that his hard-right view would set LGBTQ rights back. The senator also voted against the nomination of Governor Sam Brownback for Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom because of his troublesome record when it comes to protecting the LGBTQ community.

The senator also opposed the Trump Administration’s implementation of the ban on transgender service members.

In 2017, Sen. Menendez joined an Amicus Brief in support of equal rights for the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups in the Supreme Court case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Earlier that year, he wrote a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos opposing the DOE’s decision to withdraw guidance protecting transgender students.