NJ Governor Chris Christie, in Hot Water Over Civil Rights Remarks, Calls Gay Lawmaker ‘Numbnuts’

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, facing criticism over remarks he made last week after calling for a voter referendum on same-sex marriage, in which he suggested African-Americans pursuing their civil rights would have wanted a voter referendum, sought to clarify those remarks in a press conference today.

ChristieSaid Christie last week: "The fact of the matter is 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.”

Following Christie's statement, out gay Assemblyman Reed Gusciora lashed out at him: "Govs. Lester Maddox and George Wallace would have found allies in Chris Christie over efforts by the Justice Department to end segregation in the South."

Christie sought to clarify his remarks in a press conference today: “The political climate in the South didn’t give them the option to have a referendum back then. They wished they would have had the option, but the political climate did not permit it, meaning they would not win.”

He also hit back at Gusciora:

Christie said “numbnuts like (Assemblyman) Reed Gusciora should be ashamed of themselves” for comparing him to Maddox and Wallace.

Watch Christie's press conference earlier today, AFTER THE JUMP...


Meanwhile, today Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Congressman Rush Holt will be joined by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a Freedom Rider and then student activist who was beaten for leading protests against racial discrimination, at a press conference today to discuss Christie's remarks.

Holt condemned Christie's comments ahead of the presser:

“I just thought it was unbelievable, unreal,” he said. “He’s a lawyer, governor and not to know that putting the issue of civil rights – segregation and racial discrimination in the American south – to a vote?  We would have never made it during the 40s, the 50s or the 60s. Most of the governors except for a few of the states were outright segregationist. And most of these states in the old confederacy, people of color could not register to vote.”

Watch Christie's press conference earlier today, AFTER THE JUMP...