By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
Here’s something you don’t see often:
On Friday, Save Jerseyans, a group of pro-gay marriage New Jersey Republicans called on Congressman Rep. Chris Smith (R, NJ-05), chairman of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organization, to recant certain comments regarding gay citizens and human rights.
Lambasting Smith’s remarks as “completely outside the recognized global human rights framework, inconsistent with his solid pro life record, contrary to Catholic teachings regarding violence against LGBT people, and not at all reflective of the values of equality and inclusion that have been the bedrock of the U.S.,” the group, led by Passaic County Republican Chairman John Traier, didn’t mince words in its unusual press release.
“Republican Party and the values of life and liberty that have been the foundation of American democracy,” the organization’s board continued in its statements. “The U.N. Declaration on Human Rights — and the numerous covenants and instruments that have emerged from it — apply to women, indigineous peoples, people with disabilities, children, and LGBT people EQUALLY and WITHOUT EXCEPTION.”
The controversy stems from a Tuesday hearing on events in Nigeria when the Congressman/Chairman stated: “I am a strong believer in traditional marriage and I do not construe homosexual rights as human rights.” You can listen here around the hour 1:42 mark.
While considered a moderate on certain economic and labor issues, Rep. Smith is a devout Catholic who falls firmly into the social conservative camp.
Asking for the opportunity to meet with Smith and discuss their concerns, the group insisted its members “have stood with Congressman Smith over the years and supported his congressional career actively” and believe “it’s time for Congressman Smith to look inwardly and revisit his recent remarks and his current line of thinking.”
I’ll say this much, Save Jerseyans: if you listen to Congressman Smith’s remarks in their full context, while perhaps not the most artful in construction, and regardless of whether you agree with his position, I didn’t interpret his statement as the least bit anti-gay, or expressive of hatred toward gay people for that matter. He was trying to make a point about gay marriage. And he’s not exactly known for being a mean guy! Take that for whatever it’s worth.
In any event, the fact that we have an establishment GOP chairman calling out an established GOP Congressman over gay marriage is certainly indicative of how much the country – and the Republican Party – is moving on this issue.