Gov. Chris Christie, if only briefly, dropped his tough Jersey guy persona Wednesday night and apologized for saying the violence and demonstrations of the civil rights movement could have been avoided if the issue of segregations had been left to a voter referendum.
“Anybody who was offended by what I said, if you are listening out there tonight, I apologize for that,” the governor said on New Jersey 101.5‘s monthly radio call-in show. “I didn‘t mean to offend anybody, and if I did I‘m sorry.”
Christie’s comment was in relation to his call for a referendum on the November ballot that would allow voters to decide if same-sex marriage should be legalized in New Jersey. The Democratic-controlled Legislature has made the approval of gay marriage its top priority in the news session but the governor has vowed to veto the measure when it reaches his desk.
Democrats and African-American community leaders were critical of Christie’s statement that the elimination of segregation should have been placed up as a ballot referendum.
Reaction to the apology, Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex) said, “The governor rightfully acknowledged the hurtful and insensitive nature of his remarks. Going forward, I now trust and expect that, as the Legislature moves toward implementing marriage equality, the governor will respect the serious nature of the constitutionality of civil rights and equal protection under the law.”