New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is another example of a straight ally in public service who happens to be black and who happens to share a different opinion on the progress of the Obama Administration on LGBT issues, proving that the black community is not monolithic when it comes to gay rights or the performance of our first African-American President.
Booker recently sat down with The Advocate to discuss his frustration with the lack of progress on gay rights by the Obama Administration and the effects its having on the people of his state. New Jersey is one of a handful of states that offers civil unions for gay couples and is expected to extend full marriage rights in the very near future.
From The Advocate
“I was a huge supporter of Barack Obama and still am, but I think that he needs to take some steps right now, and I think that the more people who are friends of his or associates of him get into his ear about ending ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ about repealing DOMA, about creating more inclusive employment discrimination policy, I think that we as a nation can start moving a lot further forward,” said Booker, who co-chaired the Obama campaign in the Garden State last year.
“Unless you can change the federal strategy or focus on these issues, New Jersey residents will face high levels of discrimination in my opinion,” he said.
“I think the Obama administration is in the middle of some of the most important fights in the history of our country,” he said. “They’re eight months into an administration, if that. And I have trouble casting judgment on them feeling a lot of sympathy for what they’re going thorough.
“But that does not mean that I can’t as a citizen of this country be frustrated, impatient to watch what friends of mine who are gay and lesbian go through on a daily basis. That is such an affront to what we claim to be as a nation, and so having come from a group of Americans that’s been historically discriminated against, there’s no time but now to do certain things,” said Booker.
Booker, widely recognized for a commitment to revitalize his city, which sits eight miles west of Manhattan, devoted much discussion to his efforts to improve what he called a “very difficult reality” for LGBT residents in Newark. The predominantly African-American and Latino city was the site of the 2003 murder of Sakia Gunn, a 15-year-old African-American lesbian who was stabbed after she refused the proposition of two men in 2003.
The first-term mayor enumerated his efforts since taking office in 2006, particularly to help LGBT youths of color. His administration was the first to fly a gay pride flag in Newark, and he recently established a commission that will advise him on LGBT issues.