New Jersey Gov. Christie apologizes for civil rights remarks

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apologized for a comment he made about the civil rights movement, which he said during a recent discussion about same-sex marriage, the Associated Press reported.

“People would have been happy with a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets of the South,” was the comment Christie said to reporters on Jan. 24 that sparked controversy, Bloomberg reported. At the time he was comparing the fight for civil rights with the fight for legalized gay marriage.

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He apologized for the comment during TownSquare Media’s “Ask the Governor” program on a New Jersey radio station. Christie has openly opposed gay marriage. Last week he urged proponents of gay marriage to support putting the issue on the ballot, USA Today reported.

“Anybody who was offended by what I said, if you’re listening out there tonight, I apologize for that,” he said, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported. “I didn’t mean to offend anybody, and if I did I’m sorry.”

Georgia civil rights leader John Lewis told Gannett correspondent Bob Gordan “the comment showed an insensitivity to the difficulty advancing such a question in racially divided states 50 years ago,” USA Today reported.

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“Apparently, the governor of this state has not read his recent history books,” said Lewis, 71, when he arrived in Trenton following Christie’s comment, Bloomberg reported. “I fought too long and too hard against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up and speak out against discrimination based on sexual orientation,” he said.

While Christie did apologize for his remarks about civil rights, he didn’t back down from calling Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora “numb nuts,” after comparing Gusciora to former Govs. George Wallace of Alabama and Lester Maddox of Georgia, the AP reported. He defended his use of the term, saying his late mother used it, too.

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