TRENTON — A  member of the New Jersey congressional delegation who's among about a dozen Democrats planning to skip President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday said she has no regrets — and that's she's trying to help  protect democracy.

Bonnie Watson Coleman, representing the 12th district, made her decision public Sunday at a rally in Newark against change to the Affordable Health Care Act.

"I've not had any second thoughts," she said. "It was my intention very early on not to attend the inauguration. I'm not sorry I made that decision."

She said the people she has encountered "have been very encouraging of my decision and in agreement that an alternative to sitting at that inauguration would be the kind of interfaith service" that she is instead attending at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton.

No other members of the New Jersey delegation have announced they are joining the first black woman elected to Congress in the Garden State. Watson Coleman said she did not have a chance to talk with other members at the rally.

Messages left for several New Jersey congressman including Frank Pallone, Tom MacArthur, Albio Seres, Frank LoBiondo and Donald Payne, Jr. have not yet been returned.

Pallone, a Democrat representing the 6th district, alluded to his concerns about Trump in a Facebook post on Martin Luther King Jr. Day: “We cannot let the divisive rhetoric that has gripped our country move us away from Dr. King’s vision. As Dr. King said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.'"

Coleman said "we need a serious resistance movement" and said she views Donald Trump as "a threat to democracy." She said Trump and the new Congress are "hell-bent on taking away the rights of people, whether its healthcare, women's rights, voting rights or whatever. We have very serious concerns."

"It's an acknowledgement that the majority of nominees he advanced to certain positions and the heads of certain agencies basically represent the opposite of what those agency's or positions should mean to the common good," Coleman said. "I do not intend to participate in that and I will stand up and speak against it wherever I see it."

Coleman said she hopes hope's she's setting an example for those who are upset about the election, and said she willl "stand up for this democracy ... and I love America."

Payne in a tweet defended fellow Congressman John Lewis, whom Trump attacked via Twitter, after Lewis called his presidency "illegitimate."

The 10th district representative said Lewis is "a truly honorable man. The same can't be said about (Donald Trump)."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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