With less than a week until the general election, LGBTQ voters from New Jersey discuss the issues they care about most
By Lizzy Tarallo
Nov. 3 is just days away, and New Jersey voters who are part of the LGBTQ community are considering the issues that mean most to them.
Cara Parmigiani is both a voter and a candidate currently running for Morris Plains Borough Council. After running for Morris County Freeholder last year, Parmigiani said that running for a local position has been personal for her since she is able to interact with people in her community. However, as an LGBTQ candidate, Parmigiani faces unique challenges.
“Certainly we’re seeing this year a breakdown in the lack of decorum from folks who may not be pleased with you, personally or otherwise,” Parmigiani said.
Parmigiani said that she has heard and seen anti-LGBTQ comments towards her during her campaign this year.
“Sometimes, whether it be running for freeholder or running locally, I don’t know whether I’m running for the office or I’m running for Miss America,” Parmigiani said. “My good looks, or that I look gender ambiguous, so am I a man or a woman, that should have no impact on my policies.”
As a voter, Parmigiani said she is always interested in voting for candidates and policies that will help increase visibility for the LGBTQ community. She began an initiative called Morris County Pride 2020 in order to provide resources such as mental health services for LGBTQ youth. Parmigiani is also the founding chair of the Morris County Democratic Lgbtqa+ Caucus. She said that a main goal of the caucus is to increase voter turnout in the LGBTQ community.
“There are statistics that show that our LGBTQ+ community does not avail themselves to voting as much as we should be,” Parmigiani said. “Considering that our rights are continuously on the line, you know, it’s important.”
T.C. McCourt is a member of the caucus and a resident of Dover, New Jersey. He is also a member of the Morris County Heritage Commission, the outreach coordinator for the Morris County Young Democrats and he serves on the Dover Planning Board.
McCourt said that LGBTQ issues are at the forefront of his mind this year due to the recent nomination and subsequent confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
“I’m not just a minority being gay, I’m in the minority of gay people that are married,” McCourt said. He added later, “I am very concerned about Judge Barrett’s prior writings and opinions on same-sex marriage, knowing that we have two sitting Supreme Court justices who have now come out and basically said that the case that basically allowed me to get married was wrong and should be overturned.”
McCourt used a secure ballot drop box to vote early in the election. He said he felt good voting for former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris.
“To see Vice President Biden’s explicit commitment to trans issues; such a stark contrast with the other side,” McCourt said. “Saying it’s night and day would be an insult to night and day.”
Jeremy Rodriguez, a freelance writer and voter from Eastampton, New Jersey, said he cast his ballot early at a voting center. Rodriguez, who identifies as queer, said he voted for Biden and Harris. However, he is not as excited to have voted for them as McCourt.
“Biden and Harris are not going to give us LGBTQ equality. They definitely are not,” Rodriguez said. “However, they are not going to get in the way of us if we try to fight for it.”
Rodriguez said that on the other hand, the Trump administration has “consistently tried to fight” against LGBTQ rights.
“Their first day in office, right after the inauguration, all references of LGBTQ were removed from the White House website,” Rodriguez said. “So there’s always been consistent erasure.”
Rodriguez said he “broke down and cried” after he heard about the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett. He said he is most worried about how she may rule in the case Fulton v. City of Philadelphia this November, which will decide whether or not adoption agencies can discriminate against LGBTQ couples due to religious beliefs.
McCourt said he hopes for a future where there is more action to create positive change for the LGBTQ community in the United States.
“We need explicit federal protections,” McCourt said. “We need laws passed at the federal level that guarantees same-sex marriage, that guarantees protections for LGBTQ employees in the workplace, you know, strengthening our hate crime laws to encompass all members of the LGBTQ community.”
Rodriguez said that Biden and Harris are elected, he will be holding them accountable for some of their previous actions. For now, he’s holding his tongue.
“One of my friends actually put it best,” Rodriguez said. “She said, ‘We love them, and we’re not gonna say otherwise ‘til January.’”