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Posts Tagged ‘gay New Jersey’

A Big Day for Atlantic City as Harrah’s Cuts Ribbon on $125.8 Million Conference Center

September 25th, 2015 Comments off


Ribbon Cutting. Image via  Jeff Heilman

Ribbon Cutting. Image via Jeff Heilman

by Jeff Heilman

Last week, local and state officials joined executives from Caesars Entertainment Corporation in cutting the ribbon on the new $125.8 million Waterfront Conference Center at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City. Speaking beforehand with Michael Massari, Caesars’ senior vice president of national meetings and events, we agreed that like his native Philadelphia, Atlantic City has fighting spirit to spare.

Pummeled of late by competition, casino closures and job losses, the fabled seaside resort has resiliently kept its dukes up. While slower to diversify than Las Vegas, where non-gaming draws such as five-star dining and mega-nightclubs now account for fully two-thirds of the revenue, Atlantic City has played its cards right by developing its own upscale dining, retail, spa and nightlife options.

Caesars SVP Michael Massari and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian Image via Jeff Heilman

Caesars SVP Michael Massari and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian Image via Jeff Heilman

Count meetings and conventions in the revitalization, too, which is exactly what Caesars did in betting on the new 100,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility at Harrah’s. It was a well-placed stake, addressing a significant gap in the Northeast’s $16 billion meetings market. Connected to Harrah’s and all of its dining and entertainment assets, including the popular Pool After Dark, the new venue creates the largest conference-hotel complex from Baltimore to Boston, capable of hosting 5,000 attendees under one roof.

As noted at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, groups would have to go to Orlando, Dallas or Vegas to find comparable convenience. With a full-blown convention actually taking place during the ceremony, dramatic positive change is already happening. Also announced at the event, Harrah’s has 97,000 room nights booked for the next 12 months ahead, up from 7,000 rooms a year ago, and some 97 meetings already confirmed through 2019—all thanks to the new facility.

People who stick by Atlantic City are said “to have sand in their shoes.” One of those supporters is the city’s openly gay mayor, Don Guardian. “This is how we move forward,” he said of the day’s “game-changing” event. “This is how we get to be one of the big boys.”

Lots is happening in Atlantic City, besides this weekend’s Miss’d America Pageant, a whole lot of development and redevelopment is revitalizing the area.


Gay Travel: Betting on Atlantic City

August 28th, 2015 Comments off
Image via Atlantic City.

Image via Atlantic City.

It hasn’t been an easy couple of years for Atlantic City, the world-famous seaside resort area that hugs the southeastern coast of New Jersey. Headline after headline spelled D.O.O.M in bright casino lighting for the city, but just as the lights began to fade to black, Atlantic City’s resident casinos and population began to pave a new path—with or without gambling.

The death-knell came after casinos began falling like dominos. Probably the biggest shock came after Revel, a $2.4 billion casino, shut its doors. Once seen as the saving grace for the boardwalk and the area’s dying gambling culture, the casino’s ultra-high cost and delayed opening, alleged bad business decisions, and a major lack of community integration/understanding, killed the casino off within two years. This was in addition to the closing of the Showboat Casino Hotel, a 23-year-old hotel; Atlantic Club, a 34-year-old institution; Trump Plaza, a 24-old, though recently renovated property; all of which made headlines spelling the demise of the once-great vacationland. As news spread across the nation, Atlantic City gained a Detroit-like reputation (an analogy used by the city’s openly gay and openly republican mayor, Don Guardian).

Keep reading over at Passport magazine online…

Gay Travel: Asbury Park, New Jersey

September 2nd, 2014 Comments off


Image via Passport

Image via Passport

Asbury Park is a pretty special place. Not your ordinary Jersey Shore town, there’s a quirky and freewheeling spirit here, and a GLBT influence that’s become part of the very fabric of the town. Once one of the great seaside resorts, it fell on hard times in the 1970s, and it was only through the infusion of LGBT creativity, devotion, and money that it became what it is today: a dining destination so good that New Yorkers will come down just to have a meal here, and a music magnet that attracts performers and fans from all over, perhaps hoping to be or see the next Bruce Springsteen, who was a major figure in putting his adopted hometown on the map.

It doesn’t have the glitz of Atlantic City or the cutesy Victorian appeal of nearby Neptune. What it does have is an artistic and independent spirit that constantly surprises, making Asbury (as locals tend to call it) the most interesting and singular town along the Shore. It also has, of course, the Atlantic Ocean and an alluring boardwalk, which is still the primary attraction here. Take some time, though, to explore the rest of the town: this is one city with a thriving life away from the boardwalk. It’s only a little over an hour from New York or Philadelphia, so you can just visit for a day or a long weekend.

Keep reading over at Passport magazine. 

Atlantic City Elects First Openly Gay Mayor Who’s a Republican

November 6th, 2013 Comments off
Image via Facebook.

Image via Facebook.

Atlantic City has elected its first openly gay Republican. Don Guardian, who has been the city’s Special Improvement District for 20 years, won a campaign that focused on the city’s large Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Vietnamese populations who not only play a large part as business owners, but also work as casino workers. He also worked closely with teachers and young business owners. The 60-year-old Republican called the victory “humbling.” “I want to bring the city together,” Guardian said. “I want to be a mayor for everybody.” Guardian’s victory came as a surprise, even to Guardian, who joked that his partner, Louis Fatato, was going to have to bring him back down to earth on Wednesday by making him cook and clean. [PressofAC]

New Jersey Judge Defies Chris Christie, Says Gay Marriage Must Go On

October 10th, 2013 Comments off
Image via

Image via

The New Jersey Superior Court judge that ruled that the state of New Jersey must allow same-sex marriage by October 21 has refused to delay her ruling after Governor Chris Christie requested a delay. Christie said a delay “would simply allow the state to continue to violate the equal protection rights of New Jersey same-sex couples, which can hardly be considered a public interest.” Judge Mary Jacobson refused to delay allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry on October 21st because, according to the AP, “[gays and lesbians] would suffer many hardships of constitutional magnitude if the stay were to be issued, but the state has not demonstrated how it would suffer in any meaningful way if the order is enforced,” the AP .

Christie, though, continues to go against the majority of New Jerseyians (62%) who are in favor of marriage equality.  He will most likely appeal the ruling to the state supreme court.

“While this is an amazing decision, it is far from over,” Garden State Equality Executive Director Troy Stevenson said via an email statement. “We still must fight on both fronts, the legislative route and the courts. The fastest way to win this year is still to pass marriage equality through the Legislature.”

New Jersey Democrats Push Republicans to Vote For Gay Marriage

July 2nd, 2013 Comments off

Image via Passport

Image via Passport

New Jersey Democrats are pushing their Republican colleagues to legislate same-sex marriage. Their aim is to pressure moderate Republicans to join them in their effort to override Governor Chris Christie’s gay marriage veto. Democrats in New Jersey require Republican votes to override any of Christie’s vetoes. While some Republicans support gay marriage, they are hesitant to make the attempt to override the governor. Senate President Steve Sweeney, who promised that an override vote would be scheduled, has not said when. No override has been attempted since the governor vetoed a gay marriage bill last year.

Gay rights activists in New Jersey are pursuing court actions simultaneously to win the right for gays and lesbians to marry. New Jersey is among just a few states that recognize civil unions, and give same-sex couples marital benefits, but not full marriage equality.  [NBCPhil]

New Jersey Teen Calls on Chris Christie to Ban Dangerous Conversion Therapies

February 27th, 2013 Comments off
Jacob Rudolph and His Father on the Joy Behar Show. Screen Cap via Current.

Jacob Rudolph and His Father on Joy Behar Say Anything! Screen Cap via CurrentTV.

A high school senior from Parsippany, New Jersey, Jacob Rudolph is using his new-found YouTube fame for coming out in front of his entire class to garner more than 27,000 signatures calling on Gov. Chris Christie to back pending legislation banning the use of controversial gay “conversion” therapy on minors. This horrible practice attempts to ‘cure’ the sexual orientation of LGBT children.

“Every single day, kids across the state are forced to lie or feel shame about who they really are for fear of being rejected by their families and friends, or worse, being forced to undergo harmful ‘therapy’ intended to fix what is not broken,” said New Jersey teen Jacob Rudolph, who launched the campaign on “I’m incredibly lucky to have parents who love me just the way I am. I hope Governor Christie agrees with my parents, and the more than 27,000 people who have signed my petition, that all New Jersey kids deserve to be loved and protected.”

Video of Rudolph after the jump…

Read more…

New Jersey Archbishop: No Communion for Gays!

September 27th, 2012 Comments off

Pope Benedict XVI (photo by Jeffrey Bruno)

This just in from NBC in Philadelphia:

“The Newark archbishop is urging more than one million Roman Catholics in northern New Jersey, especially Catholic politicians, to defend marriage against those he says would ‘deconstruct or radically alter its meaning’. In a pastoral statement Tuesday, Archbishop John Myers said equating same-sex marriage to marriage as ‘it has traditionally been understood’ damages the institutions of both marriage and family.’ He says redefining marriage would “enshrine in law a non-optimal way to raise children as equivalent to that which is best.’ Myers says Catholics who disagree with church teachings on marriage should refrain from receiving Holy Communion.” Read the entire story here.

Pro Bar in Atlantic City Celebrates its One-Year Anniversary!

May 3rd, 2012 Comments off


Image via Facebook.

We’re big fans of Atlantic City, having spent a few weekends here and there and here and there, so we’re obviously thrilled that the only, full-time gay bar located in a casino is celebrating its one-year anniversary this weekend. A little over a year ago, when we caught wind of the changes going on over at the historic Resorts Casino Hotel, we had to get the inside scoop so we sat down with the gaming industry’s first marketing director devoted strictly to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, Joel Ballesteros who was super-excited to announce the birth of the then-called Prohibition nightclub. Now, after a name change, the club is called Pro Bar, and its attracting a fun crowd of locals and tourists alike. This weekend’s celebration will feature all sorts of exciting events, including performances by stand-up comedienne Judy Tenuta, and the vivacious Chrystal Waters . There will also be a drag bingo brunch, giveaways, and even more special appearances. Get all the info about this weekend and special discounts by clicking here.

Chris Christie Vetoes Gay Marriage in New Jersey

February 17th, 2012 Comments off

photo: Debby Wong /

This just in. Chris Christie has vetoed Gay Marriage in New Jersey. Gay and lesbian Americans are appalled by his actions. Discrimination of this sort has no place in the United States of America. Our hearts go out to everyone in New Jersey and we vow to keep fighting for Marriage Equality until it is passed on a Federal level.

Read the CBS News report here.