Gov. Phil Murphy, NJ Education Officials Busted Maskless at ‘Equality Ball’ While Students Remain Masked

MONTCLAIR, NJ - MAY 04: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy attends the 2019 Montclair Film Festival at the Wellmont Theater on May 4, 2019 in Montclair, New Jersey. (Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for 2019 Montclair Film Festival )
Lars Niki/Getty Images for 2019 Montclair Film Festival

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and leaders from the Essex County Education Association (ECEA) were photographed maskless at the Garden State Equality Ball on October 8. In August, Murphy imposed a mask mandate for students, educators, and faculty in New Jersey schools.

The ECEA tweeted images of the governor and association members enjoying the event maskless but quickly deleted the tweet after Shore News Network reported on the post.

“Our 2nd VP Chris Cannella along with our LGBTQ+ Committee Chair Micah Gary-Fryer enjoyed the Garden State Equality Ball last night along with NJEA leadership and staff,” the deleted tweet read. The ECEA posted a follow-up tweet, with an image of the removed tweet, in an attempt to clarify the deletion. “This tweet was removed because we do not tolerate hatred. All participants provided proof of vaccination,” the post reads. 

The Garden State Equality Ball came after Gov. Murphy’s August executive order that requires students, teachers, and faculty to wear masks in public, private, and parochial schools throughout the state, according to a press release from

 Joined by educators, medical professionals, parents, and school administrators, Governor Phil Murphy today announced that all students, educators, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face masks indoors for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. The Governor signed Executive Order (EO) 251, which will mandate masking in the indoor premises of all public, private, and parochial preschool, elementary, and secondary school buildings, with limited exceptions. The EO is effective on Monday, August 9, 2021. 

Garden State Equality posted photographs of maskless attendees of the ball to its Facebook account. “Special thanks to our featured attendees – @GovMurphy, @davidmixner and @ajathekween –and all of our award winners for making this year’s #EqualityBall a night to remember,” the post’s caption read. “See you all next year!”

Thank you so much to everyone who attended our annual Equality Ball last night. After hosting this event virtually in…

Posted by Garden State Equality on Friday, October 8, 2021

A Facebook user commented on the post stating, “aren’t we in the middle of a pandemic? Where are the masks?”

Garden State Equality responded to the post and suggested that CDC guidelines were “exceeded:”

Everyone was required to show proof of vaccination to enter this event. This event took place in multiple spaces, some with garage door style walls that were completely open to the outside. Other portions of the event took place in spaces with brand new HVAC systems to ensure proper airflow. We not only followed CDC guidelines, but exceeded them. Safety of our members is a top priority.

Activist and Author David Mixner tweeted a photo of the governor and himself at the event with the caption, “Governor Phil Murphy and I plotting backstage at Garden State Equality Ball:”

“We can imagine King Murphy saying to the laughter of his court, ‘Let them wear masks,’ New Jersey State Sen. Michael Testa (R) said, according to Fox News.

Testa added that the maskless affair was “another example of Murphy’s hypocrisy as he continues to force pointless pandemic mandates on regular New Jerseyans that he and other elite Democrats cavalierly ignore when they think nobody is watching.”

New Jersey State Sen. Holly Schepisi provided Fox News with an email statement regarding the Garden State Equality Ball:

“The people of New Jersey are being told by this administration that they must comply, don’t ask questions or get labeled a knucklehead or worse while those demanding compliance flout the very policies they push,” Schepisi wrote.


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