The Student News Site of Brookdale Community College

The Current

The Student News Site of Brookdale Community College

The Current

The Student News Site of Brookdale Community College

The Current

WILL Brings Assemblywoman To Campus


Luanne Peterpaul is the Assemblywoman for New Jersey’s 11th legislative district, which encompasses 19 towns in Monmouth County. She spoke to Brookdale students April 18 at the request of Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL). Peterpaul has made history for the state’s LGBTQ+ community.

Growing up in an American-Italian household, she was expected to become a teacher, a secretary or a court reporter. But that’s not what ended up happening.

Peterpaul has done a lot over the years. She has handled criminal work as a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. She’s done a very small amount of family law and personal injury work, and she has worked as a judge. And now she is New Jersey’s first woman state legislator who is openly from the LGBTQ+ community.

She was active and won a scholarship to college for volleyball. But when she graduated college, she felt lost, like she didn’t know what direction to go in. “My dad was an attorney, and it wasn’t expected that I would go to law school. It was expected that my brother would go to law school, not me. And I finally realized that I can do the same thing. That I can achieve what others were geared to do.”

In the late 80’s, she and a friend opened up their own practice. She did this even though her father had a law practice where her brother was a partner. Peterpaul said she did this so that she could establish herself. She and her partner are both gay, making their practice one of the first gay boutique law firms. This practice lasted for about 15 years.

She then became very involved in social justice issues. “Because of what was going on in the workplace, and then reliving my history of coming out, and being a female in a traditional male world. And that’s what I’ve been doing since probably 1990.”

Since then, she has worked on gaining marriage equality, educating school staff about how to treat LGBTQ+ students properly and more.

“It is not only important to empower our youth to get involved, whether in being politically (active) or advocating for social justice issues, but also to continue to uplift women and make sure that they achieve their full potential,” Peterpaul said. “Because so many times when women are successful, they kind of pull up that ladder. And I want to make sure that that ladder stays available. And that there is always a seat at the table,”

Journalism student Emelia Stedman, 28, went to this event because she was interested in hearing from a local representative and getting to know more about her. “It was great,” Stedman said. “It was very informative. She seemed really down-to-earth and helpful. And she seems to be an advocate of change.” Stedman said she would like to see more meetings and events similar to this one on campus.

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