Julián Castro, the only Latino in the Democratic presidential race, has ended his run.
“I’ve determined that it simply isn’t our time,” Castro said in a video message released Thursday. “Today it’s with a heavy heart and profound gratitude that I will suspend my campaign for president.”
Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio who was secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama, has a strong record of LGBTQ allyship.
As mayor, he advocated for adding sexual orientation and gender identity to San Antonio’s antidiscrimination ordinance, which the City Council did in 2013. He had also campaigned for domestic-partner benefits for city employees (pre-marriage equality), and the council added those in 2011. And he was the first mayor to be grand marshal of San Antonio’s Pride parade. He gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, pointing out Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s opposition to marriage equality as one of several issues where Romney was on the wrong side.
As HUD secretary, he announced that there would be no anti-LGBTQ discrimination in HUD-funded programs, and he continued to comment on Texas politics, appearing in a 2015 ad to urge Houston voters not to repeal that city’s LGBTQ-inclusive equal rights ordinance (unfortunately, they did repeal it).
At the first Democratic presidential debate this year, he advocated for equal access to health care for all Americans, including access to abortion, although he mistakenly mentioned abortion rights for transgender women instead of trans men. His campaign staff later clarified that. At a forum on LGBTQ issues in October, he denounced recent anti-trans comments by his successor at HUD, Ben Carson, and said Carson should resign.
He had said that as president he would champion the Equality Act, push for a nationwide ban on conversion therapy for minors, end the trans military ban, stop anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the immigration and citizenship systems, and end discrimination against gay and bisexual men in blood donation. He also vowed to fight against discrimination in the adoption and foster care processes, see that homeless trans people have access to shelters appropriate for their gender identity, and direct federal resources to combat violence against trans people, particularly women of color. “Every person has the right to love who they want and identify as who they are,” his campaign website states.
During his presidential campaign, Castro “portrayed himself as an unapologetic liberal who was shaped by his humble beginnings and had been overlooked by the press,” The New York Times reports. “Though he created some memorable moments as he championed progressive policy and challenged his rivals on the campaign trail, Mr. Castro did not catch on with voters and was unable to break into the upper tier of a crowded primary field. His exit is the latest departure of a candidate of color from a field that began as the most racially diverse ever in a Democratic primary.” Another candidate of color who withdrew recently was U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who is of African and Indian descent.
In his video, Castro promised to go on working for progressive causes, although he did not say exactly what his plans are. “I’m not done fighting,” he said. “I’ll keep working towards a nation where everyone counts, a nation where everyone can get a good job, good health care, and a decent place to live.”