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Cory Booker fought for black trans lives at Democratic debates

Cory Booker fought for black trans lives at Democratic debates

US Senator Cory Booker has been an outspoken LGBTI ally

As Democratic presidential candidates leveled critiques of Trump and clashed on economics last night (26 June), New Jersey senator Cory Booker was fighting for trans rights.

In a first for Democratic debates, trans rights became centered by Booker. But fellow candidate Julián Castro did give a nod to the trans community when sharing his abortion views.

The shout-out from Booker was a major breakthrough for the US trans community, at a time where bathroom bans, ongoing violence, and the Trump administration’s roll-back of Obama-era rights shake the community to its core.

What happened?

Out of the ten candidates perched behind podiums in Miami for the NBC News Democratic debate, Booker spoke the most, according to the New York Times.

But between advocating for tighter gun laws and conflicting with former Texan congressman Beto O’Rourke, Booker gave a shout-out to trans rights.

Or, more specifically, trans people of color. He cited LGBTI children’s fears of simply attending school, and the ongoing violence trans people face.

‘We do not talk enough about Trans Americans, especially African-American trans Americans. And the incredibly high rate of murder right now,’ he said.

‘We don’t talk enough about how many children, about 30% of LGBTQ kids, who do not go to school because of fear.

‘It’s not enough just to be on the Equality Act. I’m an original co-sponsor. We need to have a president that will fight to protect LGBTQ Americans every single day from violence.’

Booker was, after all, an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act.

‘A small, but powerful step’

The move did not go unnoticed by the LGBTI community. Booker, alone in amplifying these growing concerns in front of a national audience, drew praise from viewers.

As the debates aired across NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo, while others tuned in on streams on Twitter, users expressed their joy at Booker’s bold move.

As many viewers commented, Booker made the debates a striking contrast to prior elections. In 2016, Republican candidates stressed their anti-LGBTI stances.

Meanwhile, in 2008, not a single Democratic candidate endorsed marriage equality.

‘Our community has no better defender’

Chief executive of New Jersey LGBTI group, Garden State Equality, Christian Fuscarino, told Gay Star News his delight of Booker’s activism.

‘Long before he got to Washington—and long before defending equality was popular—Senator Booker was on the frontlines of our movement,’ he said.

‘He established the Newark LGBTQ Concerns Advisory Commission a decade ago to ensure the most marginalized of our community—especially trans women of color—were protected.

‘From sparring with then governor Christie over marriage equality to taking on President Trump’s transgender military ban, our community has no better defender today than Senator Booker.’

Where does Cory Booker stand on LGBTI rights?

Booker’s words last night at the debate are leaps and bounds ahead of where he once stood.

In 1992, he penned an op-ed for The Stanford Daily in which he did not cushion his past feelings towards gay people.

‘Allow me to be more direct, escaping the euphemisms of my past – I hated gays. The disgust and latent hostility I felt toward gays were subcategories of hatred, plain and simple,’ he wrote.

But he has since endeared himself as a progressive activist. He has often advocated for queer people of color, officiated same sex marriages, and supported pro-LGBTI legislation.

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