The choice in the 4th Congressional District race is easy
Info: The NJ 4th Congressional District includes portions of Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean counties. Republican Rep. Chris Smith, of Hamilton, has represented the district since 1981. The Democratic challenger is Joshua Welle of Rumson. Michael Rufo of Jackson is the Libertarian candidate. There are four independents on the ballot too.
Yet again we see youth taking the lead while their elders hang back, taking refuge in tepid response and mealy-mouthed statements. I refer to the students at Colts Neck High School who, at an assembly last May, put U.S. House of Representatives Rep. Chris Smith on a very uncomfortable hot seat regarding the issue of gay adoptive parenting. Smith has long been among the worst enemies in Congress of LGBT people, and has never missed a chance to oppose and vote against any measure that might in any way benefit the LGBT community. From this record, one that spans his entire (seemingly interminable) tenure in the House of Representatives, it is abundantly clear Smith does not consider LGBT people to be legitimate citizens, or even decent human beings.
At the May assembly, a student asked Smith if her gay sister and partner would be “less legitimate” adoptive parents. In his recorded response, Smith waffled all over the stage, attempting to avoid a direct answer, noting that such an adoption would now be legal. The students had their BS detectors tuned to high. It is often the case with bright young people. They evidently knew Smith was trying to get around the question. He hadn’t been asked if it was legal. He was asked for his own opinion.
The students pressed the matter and cornered him into saying, on tape, that orphanages remain a possibility. Another student zeroed in on that, asking if he meant orphanages were better places for kids than being adopted by LGBT parents. Smith responded by saying that he does not approve of gay adoption. “Gay households are not healthy environments for children to grow up in,” said Smith. He went on to claim that ‘numerous household studies’ show that children that have heterosexual parents have better lives than children that have homosexual parents.”
This claim by Smith is a flat-out, Trumpian style lie. Cornell University alone reports over 75 studies showing children fare as well or better in LGBT homes as in straight homes.
To date, no reputable study by disinterested, independent scholars has shown otherwise.
When it became obvious the students were not going to let Smith off the hook, the assembly was ended early. That by itself was a mistake, sending the message that polite manners are more important than holding a politician’s feet to the fire regarding an issue of importance. The school administration did its best to paper over the tense exchange. Brian Donahue, principal of Colts Neck High School, tweeted after the event thanking the lawmaker. “Our students appreciate hearing first hand how our government functions,” he tweeted. Well… yes… in a sense that’s true. Clearly the students appreciated and were enlightened by hearing how an elected representative does his best to degrade and deprive some of his constituents. Donahue did not respond to further media inquiries as to whether the school was OK with Smith expressing such virulently homophobic views at an official school function. In view of the uproar, one suspects that will be the last time Smith is invited to Colts Neck High School. I certainly hope so, anyway.
The tape of this deplorable affair was delivered to the Washington Blade. The Blade made it available on their website and reported extensively on the event.
It is beyond absurd that New Jersey, one of the “bluest” states in the union, should have as one of its representatives in Congress a bigoted troglodyte such as Chris Smith. Smith has been in office so long he seems to think he has a deed to the seat. It is past time to prove him wrong. Getting out to vote has never been more important than it is this Fall. If you are a voter in the 4th Congressional District there is at last a chance to throw this bum onto the trash heap of history. The words of Oliver Cromwell to the Long Parliament come to mind; “go, in God’s name go! You have sat here far too long for any good you may have done.”
The choice is easy. Vote for the the Democratic challenger Joshua Welle
Toby Grace is Out In Jersey magazine’s Editor Emertitus.