TRENTON – Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver today joined her Senate counterpart in decrying a move By Gov. Chris Christie to place same sex marriage up for a vote on the November ballot.
Like Senate President Steve Sweeney, Oliver slammed the move as an attempt to put basic civil rights up for a popular vote. Oliver took particular exception to a comment by Christie implying that the civil rights movement would have been better served had it been put to a referendum.
“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 during a press conference on Tuesday.
But Oliver suggested the governor needs a refresher course in history.
“Gov. Christie 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,” Oliver said. “It’s impossible to ever conceive that a referendum on civil rights in the South would have been successful and brought justice to minorities. It’s unfathomable to even suggest a referendum would have been the better course.”
“Governor – people were fighting and dying in the streets of the South for a reason,” Oliver said. “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. The governor’s comment is an insult to those who had no choice but to fight and die in the streets for equal rights. The governor needs to show the same courage. We do not shrug off civil rights. We do not pass on tough decisions.”
In order for the referendum to be placed on the ballot, it would need to be passed in the Assembly by a 60 percent majority. For the necessary vote to occur, Oliver would need to allow it to come up for a vote in the lower chamber. Sweeney has already said he will not allow it in the Senate.