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Meet Cory Booker: the senator who conducted New Jersey’s first same-sex marriage ceremonies

Emma Finamore May 16, 2018

Cory Booker is a politician, currently serving as the junior United States Senator from New Jersey.

He is the first African-American US Senator from New Jersey and is famous for his fierce defence of LGBTQ+ rights. He even conducted New Jersey’s first same-sex marriage ceremonies while he was Mayor of Newark, and has taken down Twitter trolls speculating about his own sexuality.

A summary of Booker’s voting record shows he supports LGBTQ+ rights 100 percent of the time. For example, voting to treat same-sex spouses the same as opposite-sex spouses with regard to veteran’s benefits, to protect LGBTQ+ victims of domestic violence, and various policies on the protections of LGBTQ+ youth.

In April 2018 anti-LGBTQ+ activists launched a smear campaign against him, after he challenged a Trump nominee – former GOP Congressman Mike Pompeo – over his anti-LGBTQ+ views.

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Trump nominated Pompeo to the State Department, where he would control any future work on global LGBT rights.

Citing Pompeo’s past record during a Senate committee, Booker asked: “You made a speech warning [against] an America that endorses a perversion and calls it an alternative lifestyle. Those are your words. Is being gay a perversion?”

Pompeo responded by saying that he stood by his “very clear view” on whether it was “appropriate” for two same-sex persons to marry, avoiding Booker’s wider question referring to gay rights, not specifically same-sex marriage.

Following this exchange, anti-LGBTQ+ activists launched a smear campaign against Booker, branding him an “anti-Christian bigot” and suggesting that he wants to ban the Bible.

This is not a first for Booker: he has repeatedly taken Trump nominees to task in the Senate over their records on LGBTQ+ rights.

In 2017, for example, he came to blows with Jeff Sessions, who holds a 0 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard on LGBT rights.

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As he prepared to testify against Sessions’ confirmation as the President’s attorney general, Booker said: “I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague, but the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.

“Senator Sessions’ decades-long record is concerning in a number of ways, from his opposition to bipartisan criminal justice reform to his views on bipartisan drug policy reform, from his efforts earlier in his career to deny citizens voting rights to his criticism of the Voting Rights Act, from his failure to defend the civil rights of women, minorities, and LGBT Americans to his opposition to commonsense, bipartisan immigration reform.”

Sessions has fought vocally against equal marriage and discrimination protections for LGBT people, and opposed lifting the ban on openly gay people serving in the military.

Booker has also responded with humour and balance when questioned on his own private life: he has said that he “loves” the fact that people aren’t sure about his sexuality.

He told the Washington Post in 2013: “People who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia.

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“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.’”

And there has been plenty of speculation about his sexuality on Twitter. In 2016 Booker shared a Dr Seuss poem on the social media platform, writing: “Happy National Coming Out Day!  #LoveIsLove”.

One Twitter troll took the pro-LGBTQ+ message as ‘evidence’ that Booker is secretly gay.

They wrote: “Is @CoryBooker a closet Homosexual HAS NO WIFE, NO GIRLFRIEND, Very very Pro LGBT.”

The user then ran a poll asking if Booker “has sugar in his tank” or “just doesn’t like women”.

Despite the tone of the trolling, Booker had a great response. He wrote: “Whatever my sexual orientation, know I love you. I hope u are OK with that. May we both elevate more than denigrate.”

When the Senator conducted New Jersey’s first same-sex marriage ceremonies – during his post as Mayor of Newark – he told the couples:

“Tonight we have crossed a barrier. While you all have fallen into love, the truth is the state of New Jersey has risen to love.”

More: allies, american polities, Politics, US

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