COLTS NECK — U.S. Rep. Chris Smith says that opponents' claim that he is opposed to gay couples adopting children is a "political dirty trick."

His campaign on Wednesday and Thursday released audio and transcript of the event that happened months ago at Colts Neck High School where a student identified as Hannah Valdes tells Smith that her gay sister wants to adopt with her partner and asks if he thinks she would be "less of a legitimate parent."

The Washington Blade news site was first to report the comments and posted audio from the event.

The Republican from New Jersey's 4th District responds by calling the issue "moot" because the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015. The Blade and other media outlets took his subsequent — and perhaps less than clear — comments to mean that he was saying children are better off in an orphanage rather than with gay parents.

Many took to social media after the story was posted to denounce Smith's comments, including U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District.

In a statement released by the congressman's campaign, Smith made audio of the event available and released a transcript.

"At no time does Smith express the view that children waiting to be adopted or in foster care are 'better off in an orphanage' than placed with same sex parents," the campaign said in a statement.

During the high school session, Smith says he does not believe that an orphanage would be a better option for a child over LGBT parents, according to the transcript.

  • QUESTION: So you would say that foster care and orphanages would be in the better interest of the child—
  • REP. SMITH: No! Lord, no! We have waiting periods for families to adopt children, often by years, but certainly long waiting periods of couples who’d love to adopt, but the child is simply not available.

“Anybody can twist your words and make false representations when they splice up a tape,” Smith said in a statement and urged his Democrat opponent, Joshua Welle, to "stop raising money on the lie."

Welle tweeted about the issue on Thursday morning after Smith's denial and pointed out that Smith said he would vote again to ban gay adoption as he did in 1999.

Smith also said that "marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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