Newark, N.J., mayor Cory Booker, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat, addressed rumors that he is gay in a Washington Post profile. Booker, an LGBT ally who has campaigned for marriage equality and other policies, said he partly feels "wonderful" that there are gay rumors about him.
"Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia," he said in the Post. "I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I'm gay, and I say, 'So, what, does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I'm straight.'"
Booker faces businessman Steve Lonegan, who later told conservative news website Newsmax that Booker's rebutting gay rumors was "kind of weird," before saying that "acting ambiguous" might help "get [Booker] the gay vote."
"As a guy, I personally like being a guy," Lonegan said. "I don't know ifd you saw the stories last year. They've been out for quite a bit now, how he likes to go out at three o'clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure."
Lonegan later told the Star-Ledger newspaper that he doesn't "really care about this guy's lifestyle. I care about his failed record in Newark. … He's too liberal for New Jersey and wants to bring his failed policies to the federal level."
According to the Star-Ledger, the gay rumors initially surfaced in 2002, as Booker ran a campaign to unseat Mayor Sharpe James. The former mayor's allies spread rumors about Booker's sexual orientation. Then in 2006, when asked by a voter about his sexuality, Booker said he was not gay, but would not discuss the matter further because asking that question was similar to judging a candidate's abilities based on faith or race.