New Jersey Governor Chris Christie feud with gay marriage backers turned personal on Monday, the AP
Last week, the Republican governor
courted controversy when he vowed to veto a gay marriage bill and
called on lawmakers to put the question up for a vote, instead.
“I think people would have been happy
to have a referendum on civil rights, rather than fighting and dying
in the streets in the South,” Christie said.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker and other
Democrats criticized Christie.
Openly gay Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a
sponsor of the marriage equality legislation, said segregationists
George Wallace and Lester Maddox would have allied with Christie.
On Monday, Christie expanded on his
remarks, saying that civil rights leaders of the 60s did not have a
referendum at their disposal but would have preferred it.
“You have numb nuts like Reed
Gusciora comparing me to George Wallace and Lester Maddox. Now, come
on guys. At some point you've got to be able to call BS on those
kinds of press releases.”
But U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an icon of
the Civil Rights movement, joined other Democrats on Monday in
Trenton to take the governor to task.
“I've said over the years that I
fought too long and too hard against discrimination based on race and
color not to stand up and speak out against discrimination based on
sexual orientation,” Lewis said.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski noted that
blacks would have been barred from voting for their own rights.
The gay marriage bill cleared a Senate
panel last week. The Assembly will take up the bill on Thursday.