TRENTON - Edmund Pettus Bridge icon John Lewis paused on his way to another political event to throw an oratorical elbow at Gov. Chris Christie.
The Atlantia Congressman objected to Christie's comments bemoaning the absence of a referendum during the 1960's Civil Rights struggles.
The governor made the remark last week when he called for a marriage equality referendum.
"Apparently the governor of the state has not read his recent history books," said the Civil Rights hero, standing outside the Trenton Train Station with fellow Democrats U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34), state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37).
"We would never have won (with a referendum)," said Lewis. "The actions of Congress and executive orders brought down those signs that said 'colored only' and 'whites only.'"
Lewis was on his way to an event with Holt and stayed for reporters' questions. The press encircled him and escorted him to a waiting car.
"I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma," said Lewis, recalling the battering he received on Bloody Sunday in 1965 when police beat peaceful Civil Rights marchers, including Lewis, who was first in line.
The veteran congressman aligned himself with legislative Democrats who want same-sex couples to have the right to marry in New Jersey.
"If two women or two men want to get married, that is a question of human dignity and of human rights," Lewis said. "The day will come when people look back at this and say 'we were just silly.'"
Holt approached the microphone after Lewis and amplified the Atlantan.
"For the governor to say a referendum should replace courage - that shows he doesn't understand history," said Holt.
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"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile- The Bergen Record
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