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Black leaders: No vote on civil rights after New Jersey governor says poll voters on gay marriage

BY ANGELA DELLI SANTI, ASSOCIATED PRESS

TRENTON, N.J. -- Two of New Jersey's most influential black leaders blasted Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday for proposing gay marriage be put to a popular vote in November, but the Republican governor insisted he's offering a reasonable compromise amid his personal opposition to same-sex nuptials.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Newark Mayor Cory Booker said in separate forums that civil rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and don't belong on the ballot.

Booker said baseball great Jackie Robinson would not have had the opportunity to break the sport's color barrier had the matter been put to a vote, and the mayor himself would not have had the opportunity, years later, to be elected to lead New Jersey's largest city. Oliver said in a statement she was offended by Christie's comment Tuesday that bloodshed may have been avoided in the South, and people would have been happier, if the civil rights issues of the 1960s were settled by public referendum.

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