“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. It was our political institutions that were holding things back. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily so special about this particular issue that it must be handled by a legislature. Why would that be? I don’t understand how anybody could argue with letting the people decide this issue. Let’s stop hiding behind this ‘we don’t put civil rights on the ballot’ thing. Ya know, please. These folks would put anything on the ballot if they thought they could win.” – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
NJ Dems respond:
NJ Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver: “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.”
NJ Assemblywoman Bonnie 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.”