Maplewood Dems Running Separately Due to Marriage Equality Views

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(Editor’s note, 10/24/14, 12:05 p.m.: We have added a statement from Kurt Kiley, who is running for TC as an Independent.)

Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca and Township Committeewoman India Larrier, both Democrats, are running for re-election separately due to differing beliefs regarding marriage equality.

The decision to run separately was Larrier’s. “India told me she wanted to run a separate campaign,” wrote DeLuca in an email.

In a statement issued to The Village Green, Larrier said:

“The issue is this. I believe everyone should be treated with respect and dignity – regardless of what they believe, and ‘different’ doesn’t mean ‘less than.’ Maplewood is great because it is diverse on so many levels and in so many ways. Because of my faith, I also I believe that God is God and God made marriage. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman — because, God made marriage and that’s what His word says about it. However, none of these beliefs are assumed — in fact, just the opposite would be assumed — if the Mayor and I ran together. For this reason, so there would be some separation of stance, I chose to run separately. 

“I support the Mayor’s candidacy, and believe we have, in broad strokes, similar ideas and views.  However, on this personal issue, we do not.”

DeLuca is a vocal supporter of marriage equality. In 2012, DeLuca joined the group Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. The day same sex marriage became legal in New Jersey, DeLuca performed a mass wedding on the steps of Maplewood Town Hall.

The issue is one of importance to many Maplewood voters. The town is known as a suburban mecca for same-sex couples and was profiled as such as far back as November 2006 by The New York Times. North Jersey Pride, a nonprofit promoting marriage equality and support for the LBGTQ community, held its first Pride Picnic in Maplewood in 2011 and has expanded the event to a full week Pride Festival centered in the town.

The town also prides itself on racial diversity and tolerance, although it grapples with an achievement gap in its shared school district with South Orange. Maplewood and South Orange are home to the group South Orange-Maplewood Community Coalition on Race.

The Village Green emailed DeLuca and Larrier after separate lawn signs started appearing for the candidates and several readers asked why the candidates were not combining forces as is usually the case.

The two ran together three years ago. Read their full candidate profiles here.

“Four years ago Carol and I were drawn to Maplewood because of its celebration of diversity,” said Kurt Kiley, who is running for TC as an Independent, in a statement to The Village Green. “We wanted to live among progressive people who shared our beliefs on equality and diversity. I firmly believe in Marriage Equality. The right of two people to marry regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual preference is a human as well as a civil right. It is important our Township Committee reflect the beliefs of our citizens. I am committed to supporting the efforts of Mayor DeLuca and the other members of the Township Committee who do support Marriage Equality in keeping Maplewood a welcoming community for families of all backgrounds and beliefs.”

The Village Green also has reached out to Bob Perez, who is running for TC as a Republican.

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