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When Randy Rabney Matawan nj single gay men her wife, Fran Lichtman, decided it was time to pack up their lives in Manhattan more than a decade ago, they only had one New Jersey town on their list of possible destinations: As native New Yorkers, Rabney said they drove to the town "to rule it out," never expecting to take the plunge into the New Jersey suburbs, but the couple quickly decided that's the place they wanted to raise their Matawan nj single gay menwho was two and a half at the time.

For them, Rabney said, Maplewood -- and neighboring South Orange -- has been that community. Towns like Maplewood, South Orange, other suburbs of New York City, some Jersey Shore communities and the state's second largest city, are particularly welcoming to the gay community and particularly progressive on issues affecting that community, residents and activists say.

The diversity of the LGBT community makes compiling a definitive list of gay-friendly towns in New Jersey a difficult task -- as each person places different priorities in choosing a place to call home -- and a comprehensive analysis of how the hundreds of municipalities in New Jersey stack up against one another on LGBT issues does not exist.

But when determining a town's friendliness toward its LGBT community, Christian Fuscarino, the executive director of Garden State Equalitysaid public displays of gay pride, including flag-raising ceremoniesshow the municipality is "proactively inclusive of their LGBT residents.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT rights organization, releases a rating of towns throughout the country every year basedin part, on those issues. Fuscarino believes the same community would take top honors if a New Jersey-centric ranking were done.

Jersey City also expanded health care options for its employees last year to cover transgender medical care, including gender reassignment surgery. Asbury Park received the third-best rating in New Jersey from the Human Rights Campaign, with a score of 83, followed by Princeton at Ocean Grove, Trenton, New Brunswick, Newark and Elizabeth each received scores between 60 to 70, while Hoboken and Paterson fared the worst among the towns rated, with a score of 51 Matawan nj single gay men 48, respectively.

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The average score, nationwide, was Scores were capped ateven if towns scored more than that amount with bonus points. Paul Amatuzzo, a lifelong Jersey City resident and a real estate agent with Armagno Agencysaid gay people, like himself, are attracted to Jersey City because they want to be "able to live the life that we live and not be ridiculed.

These Garden State communities are...

Amatuzzo also identifies Asbury Park, where he owns a home, as an "extremely gay-friendly" town and one that celebrates the LGBT community every year at Jersey Pride, an annual parade and festival that marked its 25th year this summer. The Jersey Shore town has a history of gay bars and clubs going back to the s and an active gay business community today, said Amy Quinn, the deputy mayor of Asbury Park. The federal government doesn't survey people Matawan nj single gay men their sexual orientation or gender identity as part of the Censusmaking it difficult to determine where the largest population of LGBT residents reside.

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The Census does, however, track same-sex couple households by state and found 16, same-sex couples were living together in New Jersey in While Maplewood and South Orange weren't included on that list, residents there say that lesbian and gay families are completely enmeshed in the community.

We want a community that's open minded. We want schools that are good for our children," she said.

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