NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney Calls Anti-Gay Marriage Vote ‘Biggest Mistake of Career’

New Jersey LGBT rights group Garden State Equality reports on its Facebook page that Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney apologized for his vote against marriage equality in January 2010 in a speech on the Senate floor today.

Sweeney The 2010 vote took place in a post-election lame duck session when Governor Jon Corzine was in the last days of his term.

The AP is reporting on Sweeney's statement as well.

Said Sweeney:

"Seventeen months ago, I stood up here and made the biggest mistake of my legislative career. I made a decision based purely on political calculations not to vote in support of marriage equality. I failed in my responsibility as majority leader of this house of government to actually lead. I was wrong. To my fellow colleagues, to staff, and to those watching upstairs, let me tell you: never, ever again will I allow that to happen. The time for political calculations is over."

Responded Garden State Equality Chair Steven Goldstein: 

"We welcome Senate President Sweeney’s support with open arms. The world evolves, and our responsibility as advocates is not to hold grudges, but to pass laws. Today we indeed have the votes to pass marriage equality in both houses of the New Jersey legislature. But we do not have enough votes, to be sure, to override Governor Christie's veto. It means New Jersey will have to win marriage equality through other means."



  1. SharonS says

    I admire Senator Sweeney for admitting he made a mistake. That takes real “guts” in an age of so much emphasis on “what is politically correct.” If the right wing in our US Congress and in our State Houses and Senate don’t wake up and do what is right for the people they will be voted out of office real soon. What is wrong with people marrying those they love? Nothing..

  2. Justin in Oaklawn, Dallas, TX says

    Um… Lessee…
    Apologies to:
    1. -colleagues,
    2. -staff
    3. -those who are watching (whoever they are?)

    Now, as far as PEOPLE ACTUALLY HARMED BY IT, .

    More of the same. Jackass.

    And as Joe said, too late. What matters is the LAW OF THE LAND, not some squishy feelings he thinks he’s come down with. It’s not how you FEEL, jackass, it’s what you have PERPETRATED. If you think I’m wrong, then go read a law book.

  3. MDK says


    No, that does not take ‘real guts.’ Marriage equality is now the majority opinion. He is still making very politically calculated decisions.

    BUT, it is heartening to know that politicians are waking up to the fact that the majority now supports gay marriage and some are repositioning themselves as a result.

  4. Bear says

    To me it is on this website a phenomena beyond all history to so frequently see/hear so many men – big, grown-up men- say the three words almost all men do everything they can to never admit: “I was wrong.” Am i hearing corretly?

  5. MikeInSanJose says

    The other part of admitting one was wrong is doing something about it. Hell, he could even do something about it and NOT admit he was wrong. I wouldn’t care.

    The words are easy. What did he get for his anti-gay vote? Money, power, other bribes? How about he outs the people who (apparently) so easily convinced/bribed him to vote against us? How about he confesses to whatever leverage they used or pressure they applied? It’s as much a crime to offer a bribe as it is to accept one, and anything a lobbyist of any stripe offers a politician in return for a vote is just that – a bribe.

    Jesus was willing to die for the sins of the rest of us (if you believe that). What price is Sweeney willing to pay for his own sins?

    Or does he simply have an election coming up that he is expecting to lose without the gay vote?

  6. Paul R says

    Come on. He admitted it was a mistake. He’s the Senate President. This doesn’t just mean he’s changing his vote, he’s opening the door for a lot of others to do so as well.

    No, it’s not perfect. And his retraction may still be a calculation, but at least it’s in our favor—and “biggest mistake of my legislative career” is not exactly mincing words. Recall that we still have only a slim majority of approval for marriage equality.

    Understand: 98% of politicians suck. Most of those who don’t move into different careers because they come to realize how much integrity they have to sacrifice and how much of their time is spent raising funds for their next election. Honesty almost never enters the picture. So don’t gripe about someone offering support to LGBTs.

    And ask yourself: are you willing to do the work and endure the scrutiny, working hours, and BS of being a politician so that you can influence policies and improve the world? If you can say yes and you’re not a shallow egomaniac, good for you. But precious few people fall into that category.

  7. Tyler says

    I’m more interested in GSE’s statement that they now have a majority in both chambers for SSM. Really? They need 21 votes and they only got 14 a year and a half ago, out of the same group of Senators. Here’s one of them, but who are the other 6 Senators who stabbed us in the back when it mattered and now that Gov. Christie’s veto makes it irrelevant apparently have changed their mind?

  8. says

    If we have the votes, pass the bills in both houses and send it to Christie — and make him veto it. It will make him all the more unpopular, push more people toward the side of equality and he may make the political calculus that he’s just so politically toxic and hated by all but the Tea Partiers of his own state, that he’d have no choice but to ‘appeal’ to moderates and others by signing something like this. It’s a snow-ball chance in hell, but still a chance and even if we lose (his signature), we win.

  9. Richard Farias says

    Go to hell, Sweeney. You sat there with your thumb up your ass while your colleagues voted. A “no” vote would have been preferable to your disgusting, cowardly abstention.

    Now, as you realize that after your nearly two years of toadying to Governor Fat Bastard you’re in danger of having the Senate Presidency yanked out from under you, you make a pathetic, half-assed apology to everyone you’ve screwed in the vain hope that maybe, just maybe, the Democratic Caucus will forget just what a shitheel you are.

    Go crawl in a latrine and die. You sicken me.

  10. Keith says

    I agree with those who’ve so far stated:

    1) Too Late
    2) Apologized to everyone but the very people he harmed most
    3) Easy to say now that there is little, if no hope, of marriage equality in the state
    4) Proves that politicians aren’t really legislative leaders, but rather self-centered, ego-centric, career and power peddlers (not that that’s really new)

    His support is of little use to the LGBT community in New Jersey, and will change nothing for years to come. He had his chance, and he blew it. Sometimes, opportunities only come once in a lifetime, and you should take advantage of them and stand up for what you believe. . .otherwise, it will be too late.

  11. Larry says

    It’s amazing how once they get out of office all these politicians make these startling apithanies like wow i should have given gays equality as if thats going to make up for their stupid bigoted mistake by not giving it to us in the first place.

  12. Rowan says

    What a condescending slime ball but of course you can’t count on the self loathing victim tools at NJ marriage equality to just lap it up and not frigging question him.

    No wonder the right hate the left as sanctimonious victims.

  13. jersey says

    This mea culpa was always in the cards, and is in fact an extension of his original political calculation. He got to reap the benefits of voting against the bill and now gets to reap the benefits of renouncing that original vote. He deserves absolutely zero credit for this move.

  14. wimsy says

    From allo the people whose lives you put on hold, from all the believers in equal rights, from all the victims of hateful bigotry and religious persecution, from all the employees who suffer job discrimination, and from all the kids whose parents cannot marry – thanks a bunch, Steve.

  15. says

    Actually, I agree with the negative people here. History is littered with politicians who hate us when they’re in office and then suddenly love us when they’re out (e.g., Jimmy Carter, Barry Goldwater, Bill Clinton to some extent). I’m with Jersey: uh, nice words, dude, but you don’t exactly deserve a hug.

  16. says

    At least he admits he’s not been legislating for what’s actually right- but for political gain.
    Now to the other 797,355 politicians doing the same: maybe they should watch some tape of Alan Grayson on the floor of the House.

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