Digital Diversity: An interview that captures a historic moment for New Jersey’s LGBTQ community

Authored by Karen Faverzani

Presented as part of the Monmouth County Historical Association’s Digital Diversity Oral History Project, this screenshot depicts pictures and a description of an audio interview with Amy Quinn, an LGBTQ advocate. Her interview took place on August 28, 2020.

Just after the stroke of midnight on October 21, 2013, Amy Quinn and her partner Heather Jensen legally wed on the Asbury Park boardwalk in New Jersey (The Coaster 2013).

Quinn noted in an interview with a historian that the same-sex couple made Asbury Park history that day (“Amy Quinn Oral History Interview” 2020, 26:15).

As to how they did so, Quinn responded, “I would argue I was one of the first to get married although I think everybody at 12:01 argues they were the first to get married” (“Amy Quinn Oral History Interview” 2020, 26:18).

The interview is included in the association’s Digital Diversity Oral History Project. The project is the brainchild of Dana Howell, an association researcher, who found there to be a lack of culturally diverse stories in the organization’s holdings (Geffken 2020). The project is first focusing on members of the LGBTQ community, then expanding to include oral histories from African-Americans, Hispanics, senior citizens and members of the Jewish community in Monmouth County (Geffken 2020). The audio interviews are catalogued and added to the organization’s library in Freehold, New Jersey. The public can also access the interviews on the association’s website at www.monmouthhistory.org.

The association’s desire to include diverse holdings that are more relevant to a wider audience as well as Quinn’s interview that includes challenges she has faced as a gay woman, are both reflective of the Vincentian tradition (Geffken 2020; St. John’s University 2015). That tradition strives to “foster a world view and to further efforts toward global harmony and development by creating an atmosphere in which all may imbibe and embody the spirit of compassionate concern for others so characteristic of Vincent” (St. John’s University 2015, under “Our Mission”).

In the interview, Quinn pointed out that she attended rallies in Trenton, the state’s capital, in support of same-sex marriages (“Amy Quinn Oral History Interview” 2020, 41:02). In September 2013, a New Jersey Superior Court judge decided in favor of same-sex marriages when she agreed with the lawsuit’s plaintiffs that gay couples were being denied equal rights in New Jersey (Rizzo and Sherman 2013). The governor of New Jersey then appealed the decision but the judge’s ruling was upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court when it refused to place a temporary hold on same-sex marriages (Rizzo and Sherman 2013). New Jersey became the 14th state, including the Dominican Republic, to legalize same-sex marriage (Zernike and Santora 2013).

Quinn considers her efforts to seek marriage equality a vitally important time in her life (“Amy Quinn Oral History Interview” 2020, 40:52). When asked by Howell to state the most important thing to know about the LGBTQ community, she replied the following:

We’re no different than the straight community in terms of the relationships we have and the work that we do. We’re no different. And if you are acquaintances with somebody or if you are friends with another gay person, you know that. You know there’s no difference in you getting married and me getting married.

(“AMY QUINN ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW” 2020, 42:44)

References

Geffken, Rick. 2013. “Monmouth County Historical Association Kicks Off Oral History Project.” The Two River Times, January 15, 2020. https://tworivertimes.com/monmouth-county-historical-association-kicks-off-oral-history-project/.

Quinn, Amy. 2020. “Amy Quinn Oral History Interview.” Interview by Dana Howell. Monmouth County Historical Association. August 28, 2020. Audio, 44:46. https://archive.org/details/amy-quinn-oral-history-interview.

Rizzo, Salvador and Sherman, Ted. 2013. “N.J. Supreme Court refuses to block same-sex marriage; first weddings expected Monday.” Star-Ledger, October 19, 2013. https://www.nj.com/news/2013/10/supreme_court_refuses_to_block_same-sex_marriage_first_wedding_expected_monday.html.

St. John’s University. 2015. “Our Mission.” Last modified October 2015. https://www.stjohns.edu/about/history-and-facts/our-mission.

The Coaster. 2013. “They Waited for the Midnight Hour, Then Wed.” October 24, 2013. https://thecoaster.net/wordpress/they-waited-for-the-midnight-hour-then-wed/.

Zernike, Kate and Santora, Marc. 2013. “As Gays Wed in New Jersey, Christie Ends Court Fight.” The New York Times, October 21, 2013. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/nyregion/christie-withdraws-appeal-of-same-sex-marriage-ruling-in-new-jersey.html.

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