Have you heard? There's an election happening and it's kind of a big deal. In 2016 you've seen more politically charged Facebook statuses than you can count, you never want to hear the words "e-mail" or "wall" ever again, and you've heard us use a lot of air time to discuss the two big ballot questions New Jersey will be voting on. I'll be honest - if you haven't thrown your smartphone out of a window or bashed your head through your computer monitor by now, take a deep breath because you've made it.

Before you head out to vote Nov. 8, I urge you to consider one more pressing issue on a local level that you could have a say in, especially if you live within New Jersey's 4th and 5th congressional districts, have friends and loved ones in the LGBTQ community, or simply think that LGBTQ people should have the same rights as everyone else.

The politicians in question? Incumbent congressmen Chris Smith and Scott Garrett.

Representative Chris Smith (Getty Images)

Let's start with Chris Smith, who will be on my ballot when I make my way down to the Freehold County Clerk's office to vote.

Along with being a Republican congressional representative from New Jersey, Chris Smith is also the chairman of the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization Subcommittee. During a 2015 Foreign Affairs Committee meeting regarding human rights in Nigeria, Smith proclaimed,

You know there are fundamental differences in the United States over the whole LBGT issue. I am a strong believer in traditional marriage and do not construe homosexual rights as human rights."

Representative Scott Garrett (Getty Images)

And then there's Scott Garrett.

Scott Garrett voted against hate crime protections for LGBTQ individuals and the Violence Against Women Act, in addition to opposing the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and has declined to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Last year, Scott Garrett refused to pay his Republican Party dues because the party had backed gay candidates for Congress.

Both Chris Smith and Scott Garrett are also co-sponsors of the First Amendment Defense Act. If signed into law, anti-LGBTQ discrimination would be fair game virtually across the board. This includes employers, businesses, landlords and healthcare providers. As long as they claim to be motivated by a firmly held religious beliefs.

If you couldn't tell, Chris Smith and Scott Garrett are not good people.

Christian Fuscarino, the executive director of Garden State Equality, is on the front-line of the battle for LGBTQ rights in New Jersey. In a recent press release, Fuscarino said,

Smith and Garrett’s blatant discrimination towards the LGBT community, a mindset more fitting the 1950s than 2016, makes them the only incumbent New Jersey federal representatives not to be endorsed for reelection by GSE.

Fuscarino went on to say,

"(Chris Smith and Scott Garrett) have a long and well documented history of bigotry and opposing the LGBT community at every turn. Their positions not only fail to represent the people of their districts, but are a slap in the face to plain common decency and the idea of treating all people as equals."

I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Will either of these two names show up on your ballot? Chris Smith represents New Jersey's 4th congressional district, which includes most of Monmouth County and parts of Mercer and Ocean counties.
See which New Jersey towns are included in the 4th congressional district here.

New Jersey's 5th Congressional District will decide Scott Garrett's future. This includes most of the northern portions of Warren, Sussex, Passaic and Bergen counties.
See which New Jersey towns are included in the 5th congressional district here.

— Joe Votruba

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