Chris Christie | Gay Marriage | John Lewis | New Jersey | News

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...

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  1. He's digging the hole deeper. He's still saying the black people would have preferred putting their civil rights on a referendum! Yeah, right! And I guess that women would have wanted their right to vote put on the ballot in 1920. Seriously!? He should be doing some major back peddling.

    Posted by: Married in MA | Jan 30, 2012 2:22:58 PM

  2. Sorry, Guv, but I don't think you can finesse your way out of the unsensitive debacle of your own making regarding putting minorities civil rights to a public vote. As a privileged white male GOPer, after your "clarifying comments", you still don't get it.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Jan 30, 2012 2:36:30 PM

  3. Christie is a pathetic waste of space in a government office... send us someone useful (and less hatefully bigoted) please!

    Posted by: CKNJ | Jan 30, 2012 2:46:47 PM

  4. Congratulations New Jersey! You elected Tony Soprano to be your governor.

    Posted by: RWG | Jan 30, 2012 2:53:55 PM

  5. Lord, all of these privileged, white GOPer's who have no idea what it means to be "other" and have to fight your ass off for everything are about to find out they are on the endangered list. He can say goodbye to whatever VP hopes he may have had.

    Posted by: RonTEX | Jan 30, 2012 2:54:22 PM

  6. If anyone has information on any organized effort to protest/call Christie out, please let us know. This is too important an issue to let drop.

    Posted by: Ted | Jan 30, 2012 3:11:35 PM

  7. He's an idiot but I'm actually kind of GLAD he said what he did and that he's defending it because it underlines the stupidity of putting the rights of any group to a vote. No matter how many times WE say it it never seems to sink in, so maybe it takes someone like Christie saying it as if it's a rational argument before people really pay attention.

    Can you even imagine what it would be like if civil rights for black people had been voted on state by state? Even if you assume that eventually all states would have passed them, what horrible patchwork of laws would have been left behind so that merely by crossing a state line someone's rights would increase or decrease, their marriage to a person of another race would invalid?

    Well you don't really have to "imagine" it because that's what it's like for gay people today, married here, not married there, and DOMA making the whole thing practically a joke.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 30, 2012 3:12:25 PM

  8. Christie is alot of things, but I didn't think he was stupid. I do now!!

    Posted by: RZ | Jan 30, 2012 3:13:03 PM

  9. He's either an idiot for making the comparison, or a genius for deliberately sabotaging himself and the anti-gay arguments that he has to publicly support as a Republican. My money's on idiot.

    Posted by: Yeek | Jan 30, 2012 3:26:27 PM

  10. Wow - talk about living in his own little world. First he said something completely not only inaccurate but insulting...then to cover up his obvious lack of sensitivity to his black supporters (read voters) in his state, he came out and acknowledged that if put to a vote, it couldn't have happened then: “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.”

    But he STILL is staunchly holding to the idea that marriage equality should be put to a vote.

    "You see this round object? It has an organge-colored skin. When you break past the skin, it has an orange color interior, it's really juicy with lots pulp, has a citrusy flavor, and it only grows on trees...mainly found in warmer climates like Florida or California.... Yeah, it's an apple.... I don't care what you think it's called, it's an apple."

    Posted by: Jay | Jan 30, 2012 3:28:30 PM

  11. Shortly to follow from various pundits:
    "Sin is not the same as skin."

    Posted by: Yeek | Jan 30, 2012 3:28:47 PM

  12. "The political climate in the South...did not permit it, meaning they would not win.”

    That's interesting

    Posted by: Chris | Jan 30, 2012 3:44:27 PM

  13. Yes Chris, exactly.

    Posted by: ger | Jan 30, 2012 3:46:49 PM

  14. "Lord, all of these privileged, white GOPer's who have no idea what it means to be "other" and have to fight your ass off for everything are about to find out they are on the endangered list"

    And all those black people who DO know what it is like and who nevertheless oppose gay rights by larger margins than any other group, including "privileged white GOPers". In California, 70% of them voted against same-sex marriage and in Mississippi and Alabama, the states where they suffered the most, more than 90% of them voted against same-sex marriage.

    Can we please dispense with these ridiculous analogies between gay people and blacks? The vast majority of blacks are hostile to gay rights, not only in this country, but around the world (in fact, the most homophobic countries on the planet are in the Caribbean and in sub-Saharan Africa)--in fact, as a group, they are more hostile to gay rights than any other demographic group in the population--so please stop acting as though they are allies or have any sympathy towards us as a group or see any analogy between their situation and ourse, either historically or otherwise (although a few individuals do) your desperate attempts to create some Politically Correct Fantasyland in which all minorities are co-victims of the evil white heterosexual male....(particularly in light of the fact that the only legislative and judicial successes we have had have been due to the initiative taken by one or more white heterosexual males)


    Posted by: Rick | Jan 30, 2012 3:58:02 PM

  15. It is interesting because Christie inadvertently, implicitly admitted some things with that statement.

    Translated, with the unspoken parts included it comes out something like this: "Well OK, voting on rights for blacks wouldn't have worked because they would definitely have LOST, and that's a BAD thing. Probably. But I still think it's a GOOD idea to vote on the rights of gay people, even though just like the blacks at that time in my example they very well might lose, but it's different because the GOP doesn't like queers."

    That about sums it up I think.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 30, 2012 4:00:33 PM

  16. Gosh, Rick, it looks like you're catching up with the whole ironic-lack-of-empathy thing. You'll be equal in no time!

    Posted by: Yeek | Jan 30, 2012 4:05:26 PM

  17. "The political climate in the South...did not permit it, meaning they would not win.”

    I have MAJOR issues with this more than anything else he's been quoted as saying in the past few days. So, he'll put the civil rights of gays and lesbians up for a vote even though the LGBT community has lost every time gay marriage was voted upon.


    He's just digging his hole even deeper but fortunately what he is saying, the example f him saying it, is the reason why gay marriage shouldn't be voted upon.

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 30, 2012 4:18:58 PM

  18. This whole discussion is absurd on so many levels.

    First, the ridiculous attempts to pretend that there is some empathy between blacks and gays, as I alluded to above.

    Second, yes, the absurdity of the Governor suggesting that basic civil rights of any group be subjected to a referendum.

    Third, the absurdity of gay people claiming that marriage is a "fundamental right"...when, in fact, it is not.....its recognition by the government is based in the reasonable idea that a stable environment for the raising of children should be encouraged in whatever way possible, NOT on the idea that "romantic love" between two people should be recognized as legitimate.

    Fourth, the absurdity of so many people who do not even care about getting married (the vast majority of gay people) making such a big issue out of having the "right" to do so

    Fifth, the absurdity of focusing on changing laws instead of changing attitudes--if you change the culture so that it is no longer homophobic, you would not even need any laws to "protect" you.....and this is perhaps the crux of the issue here......the real reason you all don't want this put to a vote is because, of course, you know we would lose....and that knowledge, in turn, reminds you of just how little real progress we have made in the last half-century in changing society's attitudes

    The whole strategic approach here is wrong, because the strategy itself is wrong, IMO.

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 30, 2012 4:37:20 PM


    here's how you change things.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 30, 2012 4:45:15 PM

  20. ignore rick. he's the product of a racist and homophobic family and it's turned him into a racist and self-hating homophobic cowardly excuse for a man.

    don't feed him.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 30, 2012 4:51:01 PM

  21. One big difference between Christie and Maddox. Maddox's explanation wouldn't have been so stupid.

    Posted by: BobN | Jan 30, 2012 5:24:10 PM

  22. The state DID put laws forbidding racial discrimination in housing to the popular vote. And voter in Maryland and California voided the laws. And voters in New Jersey took away the right to vote from women when the state legislature approved it.

    A person's race isn't the major influence on how they vote. Rather it is church attendance. The thing is African-Americans attend church in greater numbers than the general population.

    Since Republican have used gay rights as a wedge issue to win elections, you have to wonder about Black churches aligning themselves with groups like NOM, FRC, and AFA who are working to defeat Obama.

    Posted by: Charlie | Jan 30, 2012 6:09:10 PM

  23. @RICK, sorry but your Third point is demonstrably false since the United States Supreme Court, which was composed exclusively of STRAIGHT men in each case, declared over TWENTY times that marriage was not only a "fundamental" right but an UNALIENABLE right that couldn't even be denied to convicts, including those on death row, who have almost no civil rights and restricted fundamental rights. The VERY reason that the SCOTUS has ruled repeatedly that convicts and those on death row MUST be allowed to marry is precisely because marriage was ruled a FUNDAMENTAL and even UNALIENABLE right.

    Would you care to at least acknowledge that that part of your argument was in error?

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Jan 30, 2012 7:54:46 PM

  24. Rick's first, third, fourth, and fifth points are all dubious. But, hey, his second one is spot on.

    I guess Gov. Christie (and Rick) didn't take to heart the wisdom on the matter from African-American, Cory Booker. He spoke eloquently and made a positive link between black and gay civil rights issues. He's not the first black leader to do so, since Coretta Scott King, and Mildred Loving made the same arguments years ago.

    Marriage is a fundamental right, and, even if children are not involved, there is no rational reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage since childless opposite-sex couples are absolutely free to marry. Many gay couples, in fact, do want to marry (and to have children), and the numbers will only increase as equality prevails. Whether the numbers are equal to heterosexuals is irrelevant. Having a right doesn't mean everyone will want the right--even those who have no wish to marry believe in the importance of all US citizens having the same fundamental rights. Changing the culture is indeed important, and one of the best ways to change it is by changing laws, and by making the rational arguments for equality that get laws changed and judges ruling in our favor. Equality changes the culture. I've seen it in action. Any place that has equality for any length of time will not go back; that's a remarkable cultural shift supported by statistics. Some white heterosexual males do indeed deserve credit for pushing equality forward--some of the best allies in my home state, VT, fit that group. But they were also almost exclusively not Republican, and not fundamentalistic or evangelical. In fact, the one thing that can be said about most allies of all skin colors is that they aren't members of the mainstream Republican party or a fundamentalist church.

    Christie will be on the wrong side of history, and the fair-minded people of NJ are recognizing this. We will win at the ballot box eventually, but that's not what anyone should have to go through to attain basic civil rights.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jan 30, 2012 8:54:17 PM

  25. Well, one out of five IS an improvement...

    Posted by: TJ | Jan 30, 2012 10:48:01 PM

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