"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," [Christie] said.Of course people would prefer to have their rights without having to fight and die for them. But, to imagine that the South would have passed any referendum to grant minority rights prior to the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is delusional.
Today's Philadelphia Inquirer has reactions of some of the New Jersey Democratic leaders of the legislature.
Democrats, particularly Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D., Essex), who is African American, have repeatedly called gay marriage a civil rights issue. That's why they made it their top legislative priority this year. And that was the context in which Christie made his remarks.
Oliver responded yesterday to Christie's comments saying that he "better sit down with some of New Jersey’s great teachers for a history lesson, because his puzzling comment shows a complete misunderstanding about the civil rights movement."
“It’s impossible to ever conceive that a referendum on civil rights in the South would have been successful and brought justice to minorities...They were fighting and dying in the streets of the South because the majority refused to grant minorities equal rights by any method. It look legislative action to bring justice to all Americans, just as legislative action is the right way to bring marriage equality to all New Jerseyans."
Added Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman: "His words defy history and were extremely insensitive to the struggle for equality of African-Americans and other minorities in this country. Fighting and dying in the streets of the South was not a choice, Governor, it was the only way."
Even Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who originally had far softer words for the governor's position, claimed that the governor's call for a constitutional amendment to be voted on by the electorate was nothing more than "the official opening of his campaign for vice-president."Newark's Mayor Cory Booker spoke on WNYC today (just sound, no image).
As I mentioned in FollowUp 1, I believe that Governor Christie will veto marriage equality after he insulated himself from charges of bigotry by appointing a homosexual to the New Jersey Supreme Court. That insulation does not extend to ignorance of history and failure to understand the Civil Rights Movement. It is obvious that Mr. Christie is using the proposition of a ballot measure on civil rights as part of positioning himself for federal office, either as a running mate for the Republican candidate for President or as a cabinet officer in the next Republican administration, perhaps for a run for the presidency in 2016.
Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.
9 January 2012, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.
25 January 2012, FollowUp 1.
28 January 2012, FollowUp 3.
30 January 2012, FollowUp 4.
31 January 2012, FollowUp 5.
3 February 2012, FollowUp 6.
10 February 2012, FollowUp 7.
13 February 2012, FollowUp 8.
18 February 2012, FollowUp 9.
21 February 2012, FollowUp 10.