Mayor Booker: Dear God, we should not put civil rights issues to a popular vote
Today Newark, New Jersey’s Mayor Cory Booker got asked an off-topic question at a press conference. Listen to his amazing off-the-cuff response. The question was this: “The Governor is talking about putting marriage equality to a public referendum. I wonder if you have any feelings on how the Governor has handled this whole question of marriage equality.”
Dear God, we should not be putting civil rights issues to a popular vote to be subject to the sentiments, passions of the day. No minority should have their rights subject to the passions and sentiments of the majority. This is a fundamental bedrock of what our nation stands for.
I get very concerned that we have created in our state and refuse to address, and call it like it is, that we’ve created a second class citizenship in our state. That’s what we have in America right now. We’ve two classes of citizens.
Jackie Robinson said the right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time. Let’s stop the ruse. We have two types of citizens right now in our state.
Citizens like me, who if I choose to marry somebody, I can marry somebody from a different country and they have a right to United States citizenship. I talked to somebody last night whose spouse is looking to be deported. Their spouse is looking to be deported.
I’ve got a right that if I die, I’m married, this first-class citizenship that I have says that my wife will get to avoid estate taxes. The second-class citizens in our country don’t have those rights.
There’s over 1,000 federal laws that create different classes of American citizenship because we’re not treating everybody equally under the law. I read the 14th Amendment clearly. It talks about equal protection under the laws. That was never something that should go out to a popular vote. Whether blacks, women or other minorities, should be equal, first-class citizenship.
Thank God Jackie Robinson, it wasn’t a popular vote whether he should be a professional baseball player.
To me it is infuriating that we are in the 21st century and we haven’t created equality under the law. And so I will be fundamentally, in every fiber of my being, supportive of equal citizenship for all people in this country. Because I know at the end of the day I would not be here, my family wouldn’t have been able to put food on the table for me if it wasn’t for that ideal in America.
Don’t just point to the Governor – we had the chance to do this under the last Governor, and we didn’t have the courage to stand up and do the right thing. I am tired and exhausted that we have a country able to overcome women having second-class citizenship in this country, Blacks having a second-class citizenship in this country, Latinos having a second-class citizenship in this country, Blacks and whites who wanted to marry have a second-class citizenship in this country. It’s about time we create first-class citizenship for every American, plain and simple. Every New Jerseyan. This should not be a popular vote. This is something we should do now.