“Loretta Weinberg is the most effective champion of LGBT rights who has ever held public office in New Jersey,” says Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality. Goldstein and his partner exchanged vows in Weinberg’s office on February 19, 2007, the date the new civil unions law took effect. Months earlier, the state supreme court had ruled in favor of equal rights for same-sex couples but deferred to the legislature as to whether the unions should be called “marriages.”

Weinberg now sees the civil unions law compromise she sponsored as a “chicken way out” but also insists pragmatism was necessary. “It was the ability to take the next step forward,” she says.

A Bronx, N.Y., native, Weinberg moved to California as a child with her brother and mother following her parents’ divorce. She graduated from Beverly Hills High School and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, before returning to the Northeast and marrying her husband, an interior designer who died in 1999. Weinberg traces her passion for gay rights to her Jewish family’s unconditional acceptance of two gay cousins.

Over the past four years in the senate, she’s acquired a ballsy rep for her stands against the gun rights lobby and corrupt politicians. That reformer pedigree nudged Corzine to select her as a running mate.

Does she have her eyes on the state’s top position in 2013? Weinberg isn’t saying either way: “I know I’m as old as I am, but other than that, inside, my age is sort of irrelevant.” 

Tags: Politicians