New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker clarified his sexuality in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’m heterosexual,” he told the newspaper.
“Every candidate should run on their authentic self, tell their truth, and more importantly, or mostly importantly, talk about their vision for the country."
The Democrat, a likely presidential contender in 2020, has faced questions over his single status. If elected president, Booker would be the first unmarried president elected since 1884.
Such an election would be unprecedented. Grover Cleveland won the presidency as a bachelor in 1884 but two years later wed a woman (in that case a woman 27 years younger than him and the daughter of his former law partner).
But the only president ever who went through life unmarried, James Buchanan, still faces speculation about his sexuality 150 years after his death. Many historians consider him America’s first gay president, largely based on the fact he once lives with Sen. William Rufus King.
This isn’t the first time Booker faced questions about his sexuality. When he ran for Senate in 2013, Republican opponent Steve Lonegan made comments to conservative news outlet Newsmax about Booker acting “weird” and “ambiguous.”
“I personally like being a guy. I don't know if you saw the stories last year,” Lonegan said. “They've been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at three o'clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure.”
Booker at the time made clear he dated women but kept his dating life private.
“The question really should not be whether I’m gay or straight, the question should be why the heck are you asking the question in the first place?” he said in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
Around the same time, a 1992 column surfaced where Booker described his evolution from homophobe to ally.
This year, Booker faced criticism over another written account of him groping a female friend’s breast when he was 15 years old.