Christie Under Fire for Civil Rights Remark

He suggested southerners should have been allowed to vote on civil rights in the 1960s.

By Brian Thompson
|  Thursday, Jan 26, 2012  |  Updated 9:34 PM EDT
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Governor Chris Christie's remark this week suggesting voters should have had the final say on civil rights for blacks is creating a firestorm in New Jersey.

NBC New York

Governor Chris Christie's remark this week suggesting voters should have had the final say on civil rights for blacks is creating a firestorm in New Jersey.

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Christie's Controversial Civil Rights Comment

NJ Gov. Chris Christie is drawing a firestorm of controversy with a comment he made this week suggesting voters should have had the final say on civil rights for blacks. The comment stems from the gay marriage debate.
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is under fire for suggesting white southerners should have been allowed to vote civil rights gains for blacks during the 1960s.

His remark came as the State Senate Judiciary Committee was about to approve a bill this week that would move New Jersey a step closer to legalizing gay marriage.

Christie instead suggested that New Jersey voters be allowed to decide the gay marriage issue in a referendum next fall.

And then he said: "People would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South."

Some state lawmakers said he was out of line.

In Asbury Park, Mayor Ed Johnson, who is both black and gay, said: "Can you imagine President Truman placing integration of the Armed Forces on the ballot? Or us voting on whether women should have equal pay for equal work?"

And in Bergen County, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, who is also black, said in a statement: "The governor apparently doesn't even understand that minorities likely would have been blocked from voting on a civil rights referendum in the South. Because they didn't have civil rights!"

NBC New York offered the governor's press office an opportunity for Christie to discuss his remark, but was told he would not be made available.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4ny

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