Strong LGBTQ ally Cory Booker has dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Today I’m suspending my campaign for president with the same spirit with which it began,” Booker said in a video released Monday morning. “It is my faith in us, my faith in us together as a nation, that we share common pain and common problems that can only be solved with a common purpose and a common cause. And so now I recommit myself to the work. I can’t wait to get back on the campaign trail and campaign as hard as I can for whoever is the eventual nominee and for candidates up and down the ballot.” He also plans to run for reelection to the Senate this year.
The U.S. senator from New Jersey “was viewed as a powerful communicator on the campaign trail, yet his candidacy never really caught fire with Democratic voters, as they seek a candidate best positioned to take on President Trump,” NPR reports. He had not qualified for Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Des Moines because his polling numbers were not high enough.
Booker had proved himself an ally to the LGBTQ community over and over again, in his tenure as mayor of Newark, his time in the Senate, and his presidential campaign. He wrote a commentary piece for The Advocate last summer on the epidemic of violence against transgender people, especially trans women of color. He also talked on the campaign trail about having a relative who is nonbinary, a “niephew” who has helped him understand gender issues. He supports the Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination nationwide, and pledged to reverse Trump’s transgender military ban if he became president.
As a senator, he has earned a string of perfect 100 scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard. In congressional hearings, he has pressed many of Donald Trump’s nominees on LGBTQ issues, including Brett Kavanaugh, Mike Pompeo, and William Barr.
In 2013, while mayor of Newark, he was officiating one of New Jersey’s first legal same-sex marriages when a heckler tried to disrupt the ceremony. Booker shut down the heckler and ordered that he be removed.
Booker has confessed that he was once homophobic, although he covered it up well, and he chronicled his evolution in a column for the Stanford University student newspaper when he was attending the school. After hearing a gay counselor tell stories of discrimination and violence, he understood that such oppression was similar to what his African-American forebears had endured.
“Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that the root of my hatred did not lie with gays but with myself,” he wrote in The Stanford Daily in 1992. “It was my problem. A problem I dealt with by ceasing to tolerate gays and instead seeking to embrace them.”
Booker’s exit from the presidential race leaves the Democratic field less racially diverse. His departure follows those of Sen. Kamala Harris, who is of African and Indian descent, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who is Latino. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is African-American, and businessman Andrew Yang, who is Asian-American, are the only candidates of color still in the race.
GLAAD tweeted its thanks to Booker for raising LGBTQ issues on the campaign trail and shared his video.