TRENTON, NJ, October 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – When New Jersey voters go to the polls Wednesday to elect their new U.S. Senator, they won’t have to wonder what the candidates think about abortion or same-sex “marriage.”
In a political climate that has seen many campaigns minimize controversial social issues in favor of popular fiscal catchphrases like “job creation” and “tax reform,” candidates Cory Booker (D) and Steve Lonegan (R) have taken the opposite approach, exchanging frequent verbal blows about social issues ranging from gay adoption to partial birth abortion.
Booker, 44, is the current mayor of Newark and a vehement supporter of both abortion-on-demand and homosexual causes. In developing his platform, he sought guidance and support from NARAL Pro-Choice America, who encouraged him to broaden his support for taxpayer funding of abortion. Booker also co-chaired the most recent Democratic National Convention, at which he successfully pushed to remove the word “rare” from the part of the party platform that used to say abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Liberal commentator Cokie Roberts later confronted Booker about the convention, calling it “over the top” in its support for abortion-on-demand.
In a phone interview Thursday with LifeSiteNews.com, Republican hopeful Steve Lonegan pulled no punches about his pro-life, pro-family stance.
“I’m about as pro-life as they come,” Lonegan told LifeSiteNews.com. “Life begins at conception, and I hold the sanctity of human life at the highest level of respect.”
Lonegan argues that a nationwide resurgence of belief in the sanctity of life would improve all aspects of society, “by elevating people, and their humanitarianism, and their willingness to be loving and caring, even in the case of an unwanted pregnancy.”
One of Booker’s most frequent criticisms of Lonegan’s pro-life stance is that Lonegan opposes abortion even in the case of rape and incest. Lonegan is unapologetic.
“I think it’s hypocritical and illogical to state that you believe life begins at conception, that a life is sacred, unless that life was created under bad circumstances,” Lonegan told LifeSiteNews. “Rape is a terrible thing. But you don’t punish an innocent baby for that.”
Lonegan said that rather than encouraging traumatized women to undergo more violence in the form of abortion, society should find ways to alleviate their pain and welcome their babies.
“Society would be elevated terrifically if we embraced women suffering under those conditions and that child and brought them to be born into the world,” said Lonegan. “I think all of us benefit from that type of a society.”
Lonegan drew a connection between Mayor Booker’s ardent support for abortion and the high rate of violent crime in his city, telling LifeSiteNews.com, “In a civilization like ours, as you demean the value of human life and make it so disposable, that sort of permeates everything else, the way our culture feels and thinks, and you’re seeing that particularly in the high murder rates and the high crime rates in Newark, where you have a mayor who’s a rabid pro-abort, where no unborn baby is safe from abortionists.”
The Republican candidate told LifeSiteNews.com that as a senator, he would support “any measure…to protect unborn babies.”
He cited the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Life at Conception Act as two measures he would support “on the path” to ending legalized abortion, along with defunding Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
But he pointed out that as long as Roe v. Wade is law, it will be difficult to end abortion in the U.S. completely.
“Ultimately, I’d like to see the day that Roe vs. Wade is overturned,” said Lonegan. But, he said, it would probably take a Constitutional amendment to override the Supreme Court’s ruling in that case. “I don’t know if we’ll ever see that happen in our lifetimes.”
On the issue of same-sex “marriage,” Lonegan told LifeSiteNews.com that he believes traditional marriage “is the greatest institution ever devised by man for the raising of children.” He criticized “activist judges” who overturn the will of the people in states like his own New Jersey, where a court order recently made same-sex “marriage” legal despite the legislature’s failure to override Governor Chris Christie’s veto of a gay marriage bill.
He said he believes the Supreme Court made a mistake in striking down key portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. He would support a new bill aimed at preserving traditional marriage.
Asked why he has been so outspoken about life and family issues when so many of his party brethren remain silent, Lonegan had harsh words for Republicans who try keep their traditional values under wraps.
“We’re losing ground because people are afraid to stand up, particularly politicians,” Lonegan told LifeSiteNews.com. “These politicians are polling on it and making their decisions based on polling memos rather than on their principles, their philosophies, and their beliefs, which I will not do in the Senate.”
“The Democrats are vocal,” Lonegan added. “The Democrats want to get out there and they want to stick out their gay marriage thing; they carry their banner high. They’re not afraid. They push their radical pro-abortion position, and the Republicans run and hide because they get a little opposition. It’s just disgraceful.”
“You need to have the courage to stand your ground and fight back against these people,” Lonegan said. “When you do that, you mobilize people, and you’re seeing that in New Jersey. You’re seeing that our base is mobilized. Our pro-life supporters are very motivated. They’re working hard. Pro-marriage people, too. They’re saying, ‘Somebody’s finally standing up.’”
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Booker and Lonegan are vying for the empty seat left by the late Frank Lautenberg (D), who died in June. The winner will finish Lautenberg’s term, which expires in 2015.
Booker supports gay “marriage” and has said that persistent rumors he is a closeted homosexual thrill him. “[P]eople who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia,” Booker told The Washington Post. “I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So, what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.’”
In contrast, Lonegan, 57, says he “likes being a guy” and “is about as pro-life as it comes.” The former mayor of suburban Bogota, New Jersey, opposes all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, and supports a Constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade. He has called for the federal government to cut all funding to Planned Parenthood, and says that “marriage between a man and a woman is the greatest institution ever devised by man for the raising of children.”
Lonegan has cut Booker's lead in half. A recent poll showed Booker leader Lonegan 53 percent to 41 percent.
The election will be held next Wednesday, October 16.