Today, a bombshell article in The New Republic (TNR) exposed what many of us thought to be true?that Chris Smith’s misguided priorities go far deeper than his twenty-two attempts to ban the common, everyday birth control pill.
Thanks to new investigative reporting by TNR’s James Kirchick, we now know that Chris Smith is a founding member of the radical right. A reporter at TNR, Kirchick is the author of a highly-regarded article on Ron Paul’s ties to segregationists; that article changed the national narrative on Paul earlier this year.
Kirchick’s new article reveals that Chris Smith has longstanding ties to religious-right hate groups; that he sat on the board of advisers of a pro-racial segregation organization in the 1980s; that he authored legislation that would bar gays and lesbians from working openly as nurses, doctors, first responders, federal employees or federal contractors; and that he played a role in a vicious disinformation campaign about HIV/AIDS that demonized gays and lesbians as “serial killers.” The article also reveals that Smith concealed campaign contributions from at least two hard-line, pro-segregation groups.
The New Republic only scratched surface of Smith’s bigotry. Following up on TNR’s reporting, this morning, the Zeitz campaign discovered Chris Smith not only worked with segregationists; he voted with them. In 1981, Chris Smith voted to restore non-profit status to segregated private schools [HR 4121, 7/30/81] that were created as a mechanism for white Southerners to avoid the full implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
The Zeitz for Congress campaign also obtained a copy of Chris Smith’s early college writings. In an article dated 1973, Smith accused gays and lesbians of being in league with “the Anti-Christ”:
In Smith’s words:
“We can live in harmony with His [God’s] spiritual laws and be like the man, as Christ said, who built on an undestructable [sic] rock, or we can live in disharmony with the Anti-Christ; the devil, not the laughable, fiery and character with horns, but the evil one often spoken of by Jesus and he like the man who built his life on sand which eroded and eventually fell. God wants us happy; His laws are for our welfare, our protection, not Sin!”
Chris Smith’s bigotry goes beyond his early career. In the 1990s, Smith introduced legislation that would force any company or public entity that receives federal funds to fire openly gay employees. The legislation would deny gays and lesbians the right to work as teachers, doctors, nurses, first responders, federal contractors, or state and federal workers. It might even deny basic rights like student loans to gay college students.
What we’ve learned today:
Chris Smith is a founding member of the Religious Right, having sat on the advisory board of the Christian Voice. The Christian Voice strongly supported racially segregated private schools in the South and worked closely with Jerry Falwell.
Chris Smith voted to support segregation by allowing all-white private schools (which were created after forced-desegregation) to remain segregated.
Chris Smith failed to abide by FEC rules and report contributions from openly racist, misogynistic, and homophobic groups on the radical right.
Chris Smith introduced legislation in the 1990s to mandate that the government (or any recipients of federal funds, like local school district, fire departments, police departments and federal contractors) fire any openly gay employees. Openly gay individuals would have been barred from any receipt of federal funds such as school loans, food stamps or unemployment benefits.
“Chris Smith is an extremist,” said Steven D’Amico, Zeitz for Congress campaign manager. “There is nothing moderate about racial segregation. There is nothing moderate about denying jobs and education to millions of gay Americans. There is nothing moderate about taking away the right to use common, everyday birth control. These are unacceptable positions that are out of step with basic human decency.”
I’m asking you to do a couple of things here. Please make a contribution. Also, if you’re in or near the district, please contact ian_at_joshzeitz_dot_com to volunteer.
We can win this race, and we need to do it in order to show New Jersey and the country that this kind of extremism is immoral and unacceptable, and voters will hold such extremists accountable.
Thanks so much.