U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, a longtime LGBTQ ally, is running for president.
Booker released a video on Twitter today announcing that he is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination.
“In America, we have a common pain, but what we’re lacking is a sense of common purpose,” he says in the video.
Booker, a first-term senator and former mayor of Newark, talks about the difficulties his African-American family faced in trying to buy a home when he was a child. They were helped by a group of white lawyers who fought discrimination, and Booker says he has followed his father’s advice to remember that history and carry on helping others. He notes that he moved into a low-income, inner-city neighborhood of Newark 20 years ago to help residents stand up to slumlords, and he still lives there today.
He emphasizes the need for solidarity among all Americans, native and immigrant. “We are better when we help each other,” he says.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) February 1, 2019
Booker has long included LGBTQ Americans in his vision, earning 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.”
He also wrote a column for the Stanford paper about how he learned a lesson about consent when a female friend rebuffed him when he touched her breast after they kissed. While some Republicans used the incident, which happened when Booker was 15, to claim he was hypocritical in light of sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh, Booker wrote in his column that it “was a wake-up call” that taught him about respecting boundaries.
Booker, a 49-year-old bachelor, has been rumored to be gay. But he addressed the question in a recent interview with Philadelphia’s Inquirer newspaper, saying, “I’m heterosexual. Every candidate should run on their authentic self, tell their truth, and more importantly, or mostly importantly, talk about their vision for the country.”
Booker talked about that vision in his first interview after his announcement, on Sirius XM’s Joe Madison Show. Listen below.