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Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres just became the first LGBT+ Black and Afro-Latino congressmen in US history

Nick Duffy November 4, 2020
Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres

Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Two New York Democrats, Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres, have won their respective races to become the first out LGBT+ Black and Latino politicians elected to Congress.

The two candidates both claimed comfortable victories in their respective races after the election on Tuesday (November 3), both claiming comfortable victories in the solidly-blue state.

Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres both win in New York

Mondaire Jones, who worked in the US Department of Justice under Barack Obama, claimed victory in New York’s 17th congressional district over Republican Maureen McArdle Schulman.

At the same time, Afro-Latino New York City councilman Ritchie Torres bested Republican candidate Orlando Molina in New York’s safely-Democratic 15th congressional district.

As the race was called, Torres said: “Tonight, a new era begins for the South Bronx.  It is the honour of a lifetime to represent a borough filled with essential workers who risked their lives so that New York City could live.

“My pledge to the district is simple: I will fight for you. The Bronx is my home, it is what made me who I am, and it is what I will fight for in Congress. I thank the voters of the South Bronx from the bottom of my heart for the trust they put in me to represent them.”

Torres did not have an easy path to Congress, facing down an anti-LGBT preacher earlier this year in the Democratic primary for the seat. He also faced homophobic attacks from a police union official who referred to him as a “first class w***e.

Ritchie Torres Ed Mullins
Ritchie Torres (Getty)

At the time, the candidate responded: “My message to the homophobes of SBA NYPD: I’m here. I’m queer. I’m not going anywhere. And whether you like it or not, I’m heading to the United States Congress.”

Victory ‘shatters a rainbow ceiling’

Annise Parker, of LGBTQ Victory Fund said: “Mondaire and Ritchie have shattered a rainbow ceiling and will bring unique perspectives based on lived experiences never before represented in the US Congress.

“As our nation grapples with racism, police brutality and a pandemic that disproportionally affects people of color and LGBTQ people, these are the voices that can pull us from the brink and toward a more united and fair society.

“Their elections will end any doubts about the electability of Black LGBTQ men to our nation’s highest legislative body. It will also inspire more young LGBTQ leaders and leaders of colour to run and serve.”

Barbara Jordan was the first known gay Black congressperson – though she didn’t address her sexuality publicly during her lifetime, her obituary mentioned her longterm relationship with another woman.

Of the seven out LGBT+ people currently serving in Congress, the only person of colour is Sharice Davids, a Native American of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Two other LGBT+ Congressional candidates who could make history are Texas candidate Gina Ortiz Jones, who could become the first out LGBT+ Filipina woman in Congress, and California’s  Georgette Gomez, who could become the first openly LGBTQ Latina elected to Congress.

However, the pair are likely to face closer races than Jones and Torres.

More: Mondaire jones, New York, Ritchie Torres, us election

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