06/24/2013 04:07 pm ET Updated Jun 24, 2013

Chris Christie's Gay Rights Record Denounced By Barbara Buono's Lesbian Daughter (UPDATE)

The openly gay daughter of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's Democratic challenger sent out a fundraising email Monday criticizing the Republican incumbent's record on LGBT issues.

Tessa Bitterman, the daughter of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Barbara Buono, used the email to slam Christie's veto of a gay marriage bill and to describe herself as "deeply shocked" by Christie's record on gay issues. She called the governor's record a "roadblock" to equality.

Bitterman also argued that Christie is trying to deceive voters into thinking he's a moderate and suggested that he's doing it for national political gain.

"I have also seen Chris Christie misrepresent himself as a moderate to New Jersey -- that's why it's even more important to stop him before he takes his radical show on the road when he goes national after this election," Bitterman wrote. "Now that Christie is running for re-election, he is more than happy to try and portray himself as a moderate. But the truth is -- his record scares me. It scares me because if he takes his brand of deception national, all Americans are in for a rude awakening."

Bitterman, a law student at the University of San Francisco, was open about her sexual orientation before Monday, according to a Buono spokesman, but this is the first time she has addressed it in the context of the governor's race. Buono told The Philadelphia Inquirer that it was her daughter's idea to send the email.

In her message, Bitterman described herself as a "gay American," the same phrase used by then-New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey (D) in 2004 when he came out and resigned from office.

Christie has been under fire from gay rights activists for his veto of same-sex marriage legislation in February; he said he wants the issue decided by voter referendum. The New Jersey Legislature is likely this week to send Christie a bill to block gay conversion therapy in the state. Christie has said that he opposes the practice.

Christie did nominate the nation's first gay black Republican mayor, Bruce Harris of Chatham, to the New Jersey Supreme Court, but state Senate Democrats blocked the nomination, objecting to Harris' lack of courtroom experience and decision to recuse himself on the issue of marriage equality.

Bitterman's email is largely designed as a fundraising solicitation for her mother's uphill battle. Christie leads Buono in the polls by more than 30 points, as well as in the fundraising race.

Christie has also made significant inroads in Democratic support, with Point Pleasant Mayor William Schroeder on Monday becoming the 32nd Democratic elected official to endorse the governor. Among Christie's other supporters are two of the state's most powerful Democrats, state Sen. Brian Stack and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo. Buono has receiving backing from one Republican elected official.

Christie's campaign did not return a request for comment on Bitterman's email.

UPDATE: 4:46 p.m. -- Buono's campaign released a YouTube video of Bitterman late Monday afternoon, in which Bitterman said that progressives need to fight Christie now to stop his national ambitions. She said Christie was using his LGBT stance to win votes in Iowa in a future presidential race.

She also questioned why Democratic Party leaders, including former President Bill Clinton, are spending time with Christie.

“Our party leaders continue to embrace Christie. Just last week President Clinton mistakenly presented Christie as a moderate. I guess he doesn't know the real Christie," Bitterman said in the video. "When Christie started to win over Jon Stewart, I knew we were in trouble."



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