During a recent sit-down with the Philadelphia Inquirer, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was asked, once again, about the fact that his status as a bachelor who has never married leads to rumors that he is secretly gay.
Booker addressed the issue head-on telling the Inquirer, “I’m heterosexual.”
Rather than a denial that would sound defensive, Booker followed-up with the perfect statement: “Every candidate should run on their authentic self, tell their truth, and more importantly, or mostly importantly, talk about their vision for the country.”
Part of the curiosity lies in the fact that the U.S. has only elected two presidents who were bachelors - James Buchanan in 1857 and Grover Cleveland in 1886.
Cleveland would go on to marry Frances Folsom two years into his term. Buchanan remained a bachelor but asked his niece to serve as hostess of the White House.
In his interview with the Inquirer, Booker noted that societal expectations regarding presidents and their families have evolved over the years.
“Clearly the norms of family relationships have been changed dramatically as you’ve seen people across this country being elected to offices with all different kinds of family situations, including the president who has had three spouses,” Booker said.
“So I think a lot of that conventional thought on that doesn’t apply.”
In this day and age, you’d think folks would have moved on from having to ask if a politician is gay just because he’s single.
This writer has been a fan of Booker for years going back to his time as mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013.
Throughout his political career, he has shown himself to be tough, fair AND an ally to the LGBTQ community.
For seven years, as mayor, he refused to officiate weddings until the right of marriage was available to all New Jerseyans.
And so, on October 21, 2013, when marriage equality finally came to the Garden State, he was there at the stroke of midnight in city hall officiating nine same-sex weddings.
When he asked the traditional “speak now or forever hold your peace,” a troll yelled “It is unlawful in the eyes of God!”
Without missing a beat, Booker continued the ceremony saying, “Not hearing any substantive and worthy objections, I now will proceed with the vows.”
We will know within the next several months what Booker’s plans are regarding 2020.
But, as he told the Inquirer, “I’m going to run on who I am whether that’s running for reelection (to the U.S. Senate) or running for president.”
“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,” he added.
And that’s as it should be.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Instinct or its contributors.
(h/t Philadelphia Inquirer - photo: WikiMedia)