Democratic Senator Cory Booker, a strong advocate of LGBT+ rights, has announced a run to take on Donald Trump in the 2020 Presidential election.
The Senator from New Jersey announced on Friday (February 1) that he is running for President, putting his name in contention for the Democratic nomination.
Booker launched his campaign in a video, saying: “In America we have a common pain, but what we’re lacking is a sense of common purpose.
“I grew up knowing the only way we can only make change is when people come together.”
The campaign launch video features brief clips of a Pride parade, in addition to civil rights protests.
Cory Booker has a strong LGBT+ rights record
A long-time LGBT+ rights supporter, Cory Booker first made his name as the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, first elected in 2006.
As Mayor, Booker would go on to make history by conducting New Jersey’s first same-sex marriage ceremonies, in October 2013.
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.”
Booker has frequently championed LGBT+ rights since his 2013 election to the US Senate, introducing a bill that would outlaw gay ‘cure’ therapy across the US.
The Democrat also co-sponsored bills to tackle anti-LGBT discrimination and add data collection on LGBT+ people to the US Census, while he more recently advanced historic anti-lynching legislation alongside fellow 2020 challenger Kamala Harris.
Booker has also been one of the few Democrats to take Trump nominees to task in the Senate over their records on LGBT+ rights during confirmation hearings.
The candidate is frequently the only lawmaker to raise the subject during confirmation battles, facing anger from Republicans in April 2018 after questioning Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his approach to global LGBT+ rights.
Cory Booker has faced smears over his sexuality
If elected, Booker would become the first unmarried US president since 1884.
The senator has often faced smears from opponents aimed at his sexuality and lack of “family values,” but always refused to take the bait.
Speaking to the Washington Post in 2013, Booker said: “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.'”
In 2016, Booker posted a classy response to a troll who branded him a “closet homosexual” and held a Twitter poll on his sexuality.
The Senator wrote: “Whatever my sexual orientation, know I love you. I hope u are OK with that. May we both elevate more than denigrate.”
However, speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer in December 2018, the Senator confirmed he is straight.
He said: “I’ve always trusted the voters enough to evaluate me on the content of my character, quality of my ideas, and my ability to do the job.”
Democratic field is crowded ahead of 2020 Presidential election
The number of Democrats running in the party’s primary looks set to enter double figures, with a high number of candidates hoping to take advantage of an open field.
All of the candidates have strong records on LGBT+ rights apart from Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who has apologised for her anti-LGBT record days after announcing her candidacy.
Three rumoured contenders, Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, and popular progressive Beto O’Rourke, are yet to declare their intentions in the race.