New Jersey Governor Chris Christie feud with gay marriage backers turned personal on Monday, the AP reported.

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.