AJC New Jersey's Community of Conscience Statement on Recent Bigoted Remarks by Trenton Councilwoman

We, members of the New Jersey Community of Conscience, a statewide initiative comprising leaders from various religious, ethnic, civil and social justice communities, strongly condemn the bigoted remarks made recently by Trenton City Councilwoman Robin Vaughn. We unequivocally stand with New Jersey’s and Trenton’s LGBTQ residents in opposing such language, especially among our elected officials.

During a heated City Council coronavirus update phone call, Councilwoman Vaughn hurled homophobic insults at Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, an openly gay man. Mayor Gusciora was the first openly gay state legislator in New Jersey and is the first openly LGBTQ mayor of Trenton, the state’s capital. Councilwoman Vaughn’s use of homophobic language and homophobic tropes are unacceptable for an elected official and are part of a troubling pattern that included her defense last year of the use of an antisemitic slur by the Trenton City Council President.

We join Governor Murphy, Lt. Governor Oliver, Senators Booker and Menendez, Representative Watson Coleman, other state leaders, and Garden State Equality in condemning Councilwoman Vaughn’s remarks and calling on her to resign. The Community of Conscience whole-heartedly agrees with Senator Booker’s statement: “From her previous defense of anti-Semitic rhetoric in 2019, to her hateful words used against the LGBTQ community this weekend, Councilwoman Vaughn has shown a pattern of intolerance that has no place on the Trenton City Council.”

On Wednesday, Councilwoman Vaughn offered a public apology for her remarks. while the apology is a necessary step forward, she has now repeatedly engaged in behavior disparaging the diverse communities of Trenton. We must hold our elected leaders to a higher standard. The councilwoman has a responsibility to now pursue further steps of personal reflection, diversity counseling, and public conversation to actively repair the breaches of public trust created by her rhetoric.

Hate and bigotry cannot be tolerated in Trenton, in New Jersey, or anywhere in our world. As we stated following the Jersey City massacre, “An attack on one of our communities is an attack on all communities. We proudly stand together to speak out, and stand up, for one another.”

For the New Jersey Community of Conscience (list in formation)

(Organizations listed for identification only)


Very Rev. Peter Baktis

Orthodox Church of America


Rabbi Philip Bazeley

Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple


Rev. Charles Boyer

Salvation and Social Justice


Ali Chaudry, Ph.D.

NJ Muslim Jewish Advisory Council

and NJ Interfaith Coalition


Christian Fuscarino

Garden State Equality


Rev. Rob Gregson

Unitarian Universalist FaithAction NJ


Reverend Jack Johnson

Coalition of Religious Leaders of New Jersey


Rabbi David C. Levy

AJC New Jersey


Raghu Rao

Hindu Jewish Coalition

and Forum for Religious Freedom

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