How Angry, Cash-Ready Gays Are Running NJ’s “No on Marriage’ State Sen. Sean Kean Out Of Town

Earlier this month, just before New Jersey’s state senators began debating same-sex marriage legislation, we offered lawmakers this handy suggestion: Learn from New York’s marriage equality defeat, where sitting senators who voted against the state’s bill are having their tenures threatened by furious and monied gay rights activists. But our theory was levied at Democratic senators; Republicans, of course, are usually against gay marriage by default. But now word arrives a New Jersey Republican senator has ticked off the wrong homos, and they’ve raised the cash to unseat him.

Or so they claim!

Sen. Sean Kean, the freshman Republican who represents the state’s “gayest” 11th District, and someone who supports civil unions, is facing the wrath of the aptly titled (and supposedly nonpartisan) group Committee to Unseat Sean Kean, which is “collecting funds already. We have people eager to write checks,” says organizer Thomas Mannix.

Which, if true, is pretty remarkable, because the organization hasn’t even announced a candidate that they want to run against Kean in the 2011 election.

But it sounds like it wasn’t just Kean’s no-on-marriage vote that riled opponents, but the impassioned speech he gave on the Senate floor, relays Asbury Park Press.

Kean said it was “unfortunate” that some took offense to his speech.

“I don’t regret making my speech. If they felt I was patronizing, I apologize for that,” Kean said. “It was to try to show that it was a tough vote, that I struggled with it, and it was not something that I did in a doctrinaire way. I wasn’t just playing a game.”

Kean said he has received some very strong reactions to his speech and vote, ranging from nasty e-mails to a death threat.

“The process wasn’t delightful,” he said.

But Kean, who says he hasn’t decided whether he’s going to run for re-election, insists this issue won’t be the deciding factor.

Kean said he has not yet decided if he will even run for re-election. That depends on whether he can get his party’s support, he said.

“In all likelihood, this particular vote won’t be the overriding factor one way or the other. It will probably have more to do with a myriad of other issues, both personal and career-wise,” said Kean, a lawyer.