Cory Booker Responds To Christie: ‘I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’ If Civil Rights Were Put To A Popular Vote

Newark Mayor Cory Booker called into WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer show this morning to condemn New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for suggesting that voters should decide whether gay and lesbian people should be allowed to marry in the state. Christie expanded on his comments yesterday, claiming “people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.”

“Frankly, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” if states had voted on equal rights legislation for African Americans during the 1960s, Booker told Lehrer. “This is not about a choice, it’s about a fundamental right and the 14th Amendment is very clear. It says, ‘equal protections under the law’ and right now in America we have second-class citizenship set-up where certain Americans can have privileges that certain Americans do not enjoy and that is just wrong.” Listen:

Booker has registered his outrage with Christie’s comments in a formal statement, during a press conference, and through his Twitter account. “This isn’t a right/left issue. There are many Republicans that are in favor of marriage equality, I’m just hoping that our legislature acts,” he said on the radio and predicted that putting the issue on the November ballot could help the GOP turn out conservative voters.


He added, “there are somethings I don’t mind putting on the ballot — we’re thinking about here in Newark putting on the ballot a question of do we want to pay a 1 percent more in property taxes to fund our police department — those kinds of things I think are good, but when it comes to fundamental rights that I believe are explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution… I do not think they should be subject to popular whim.”

Booker has long supported marriage equality and refuses to “perform marriages at Newark city hall until all couples have the right” to marry.