Cory Booker on Civil Rights

Mayor of Newark; N.J. Senator; 2020 presidential contender (withdrawn)


Blacks were fractions of human, in original Constitution

My whole life as a kid that was raised to understand that my rights and privileges are not enshrined in the Constitution, originally. Heck, African-Americans were fractions of human beings. I'm here because people of all races and all backgrounds fought to affirm the right to African-Americans and stand up for them. As a college student working at a crisis counseling center with the focus on LGBTQ youth, as a mayor at a time that my own party was passing things like the Defense of Marriage Act and saying they still had to evolve on the issue. As mayor of my city, the second flag I raised was the pride flag and I said I wouldn't conduct any marriages until everyone could be married. You can be sure that as president of the United States, I will be focused every day, not just on executing the laws of the land that should protect all, but I will be setting an example that we are a nation of love of all people, and you can't lead the people if you don't love the people, all the people.
Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

We must enforce equal rights in schools

Q: Do you believe Title IX should protect students on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation?

BOOKER: I will change the Trump administration's guidance back to what the Obama administration's guidance was... that schools should allow people to use bathrooms that conform with their gender identity. We must use our Department of Justice and the Department of Education's civil rights division to go after schools that are denying people equal rights and equal protections.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

Always fights for LGBTQ and will pass Equality Act

Q: The Supreme Court heard arguments whether current laws protect LGBTQ people from being fired. If the Court does not protect these workers' rights, what would you do?

BOOKER: I have spent my life working on LGBTQ issues. I am one of the lead original sponsors of the Equality Act. All of us swear an oath that we'll be a nation of liberty and justice for all. Those are aspirational words until every LGBTQ American has equal rights and I will get the Equality Act passed in our country.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

Question isn't "who's a racist?", but "what to do about it?"

Q: You have said, "The real question isn't who is or isn't a racist. It's who is going to do something about it." What do you plan to do about it?

BOOKER: Racism exists. And this is not just an issue that started yesterday. It's not just an issue that we hear a president that can't condemn white supremacy. We have systemic racism that is eroding our nation from health care to the criminal justice system. We have to come at this issue attacking systemic racism, having the courage to call it out, and having a plan to do something about it. If I am president of the United States, we will create an office in the White House to deal with the problem of white supremacy and hate crimes. And we will make sure that systemic racism is dealt with in substantive plans, from criminal justice reform to the disparities in health care to even one that we don't talk about enough, which is the racism that we see in environmental injustice in communities of color.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston , Sep 12, 2019

Not enough to say "not a hatemonger myself"

Martin Luther King said what we have to repent is not just the vitriolic words and violent actions of bad people, but the appalling silence and inaction of good people. There is a complicity in the president's hatred that undermines the goodness and decency of Americans, regardless of what party. It's not enough to say that, "I'm not a hatemonger myself." If you are not actively working against hate, calling it out, you are complicit in what is going on.
Source: Meet the Press interview for 2019 Democratic primary , Aug 4, 2019

Don't give a damn about the politics: racism is racism

I will defend anybody Republican or Democrat who is attacked because of their color of their skin, because of their religion, because of their ethnicity. That's just who I am. I don't give a damn about the politics of it. Racism is racism. I don't care about politics. I care about my nation. This is not who we are. This is the greatness of our country.
Source: CBS Face the Nation interviews in 2019 , Jul 21, 2019

Next president must talk openly and honestly about race

The next president needs to be someone who can talk openly and honestly about race with vulnerability. Because none of us are perfect. That nominee needs to be able to pull this country together. Because we need to reconcile. When it comes to difficult issues with race, if you can't talk about your own development on these issues, I think it's very hard to lead our country forward, so that we actually can deal with our past and rise to a better common cause and common future.
Source: NBC News Meet the Press 2019 interview , Jun 30, 2019

Threats to LGBTQ people can no longer be ignored

We do not talk enough about trans Americans, especially African-American trans Americans and the incredibly high rates of murder right now. 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 in America.
Source: June Democratic Primary debate (first night in Miami) , Jun 26, 2019

Wants new Voting Right Act; end gerrymandering

If elected president, Booker plans to introduce a "new Voting Rights Act" to end gerrymandering, cut voter suppression, expand voting and registration.
Source: Axios.com "What you need to know about 2020" , May 6, 2019

Supports commission investigating reparations for slavery

At Al Sharpton's National Action Network convention in New York City, most of the 2020 contenders affirmed their support for a bill that would create a commission to study reparations for African-Americans. Booker added a note of caution in his speech, telling the crowd that the conversation around reparations "cannot become just a political box-checking exercise."
Source: CNBC: 2019 National Action Network & 2020 Democratic primary , Apr 5, 2019

Yes to reparations, but as part of larger conversation

Can I tell you why I'm frustrated and disappointed by this reparations conversation? It's because it's being reduced to just a box to check on a presidential list when this is so much more of a serious conversation. Do I support legislation that is race conscious about balancing the economic scales? Not only do I support it, but I have legislation that actually does it. It's something called baby bonds, which means that every child born in America would get a bond when they're birthed, $2,000 placed in it. And every year, depending on their family's income, they would have more money placed in it. The lowest income Americans, by the time they reach 18 years old, would have upwards of $50,000, real wealth, a stake in our economy, to invest in going to school or education, starting a business, buying a home.
Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls , Mar 27, 2019

Will fight for LGBTQ rights; everyone should feel safe

I'm an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act. I don't need to wait to be president to fight for the rights of my brothers and sisters in this country. Then I will take on the larger fight of uniting this country, like we did for civil rights, for workers' rights, for women's rights, I will unite this country in the fight to make sure that LGBTQ Americans and all Americans have justice and equality under the law.
Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls , Mar 27, 2019

Recognize Native Americans but no Indigenous Peoples' Day

Sen. Kamala Harris said that she would push for the federal government to rename Columbus Day "Indigenous Peoples' Day," a focal point for some progressives who say the holiday should emphasize the history of Native Americans instead of the European conqueror. "Sign me up," Harris said in response to a voter's question of whether she would support the initiative to rename the holiday. She spoke of her own efforts in the Senate to make lynching a federal crime.

Harris's competitor, Sen. Cory Booker, was asked the same question in New Hampshire Sunday, but did not commit to renaming the holiday. "I'd like to talk more about why you think it's important on a federal level," Booker told voters. "My commitment to you and indigenous peoples is to tell the truth, to work to address the issues, and to find a way to have real recognition and healing."

Source: Buzzfeed blog on 2020 Democratic primary hopefuls , Feb 18, 2019

Parents experienced racist "redlining" at family home in NJ

Booker's father grew up in a low-income community in North Carolina, and the senator has recalled his family's struggle to settle in suburban New Jersey amid discrimination against black homebuyers.

"When I was a baby, my parents tried to move us into a neighborhood with great public schools, but Realtors wouldn't sell us a home because of the color of our skin," he said in his video.

"A group of white lawyers, who had watched the courage of civil rights activists, were inspired to help black families in their own community, including mine. And they changed the course of my entire life. Because in America, courage is contagious.

"My Dad told me, 'Boy, never forget where you came from, or how many people had to sacrifice to get you where you are.'?"

Source: Washington Examiner on 2020 Presidential Hopefuls , Jan 15, 2019

Creative civil rights activism revealed rampant injustice

Decades before, through creative acts of protest, courageous civil rights activists had revealed to the public at large the injustices that were rampant throughout our society. The resulting outrage fomented action that created change.

Our housing policy in this country, from the local level to the federal level, was exactly what the civil rights movement was fighting against: segregation, discrimination, the erecting of walls between people. We designed housing policy so as to obscure our ability to see each other, to prevent ourselves from having to connect with others and confront the truth about what they were enduring. We allowed injustice to grow strong and persist in a way that is utterly contrary to our country's core values, that insults our best conceptions of humanity.

Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p.103-4 , Feb 16, 2016

Blacks more likely to be suspended in school & jailed later

African American boys are two and a half times more likely than their white counterparts to be suspended in grades K-12. If a black boy doesn't graduate from high school, he is more likely to go to prison than have a full time job. A black boy born today has a one in two chance of being arrested--more if he is poor and from a single- parent family. The leading cause of death for young boys who shared my father's circumstances is murder.
Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p. 55 , Feb 16, 2016

Officiated same-sex marriage at first moment legally allowed

Newark Mayor Cory Booker officiated the weddings of nine gay, lesbian, and straight couples in City Hall shortly after midnight. Booker announced, "It is officially past midnight. Marriage is equal in New Jersey." Booker's office organized the 12:01 a.m. ceremony after a trial-court judge ruled that same-sex couples could begin marrying in NJ on Oct. 21.

When Booker reached the line to "speak now or forever hold your peace"--a man broke the silence. "It is unlawful in the eyes of God," he yelled, carrying a sign with bible script written on it. After the heckler had been removed from the room, Booker said, "Not hearing any substantive and worthy objections, I now will proceed with the vows."

For seven years as mayor of Newark, Booker has turned down requests to officiate weddings as a way of "protesting the painful reality that I could not marry all citizens equally. So I made a decision that I wasn't going to marry anybody until I could marry everybody."

Source: Buzzfeed.com, "Booker Shuts Down Heckler," by Ruby Cramer , Oct 21, 2013

Supports gay marriage: We are all equal under the law

The two clashed sharply on just about every issue, including gay marriage and abortion. Booker said he supports same-sex marriage, saying "We are all equal under the law."

Lonegan said "marriage is the greatest institution made by man" because "it's about the children." Asked whether he believes gay couples should have children, he quipped: "That would be a biological phenomenon." He then added: "I have mixed feelings about that."

Source: Newark Star-Ledger coverage of 2013 N.J. Senate debate , Oct 9, 2013

African-Americans & gays should both be equal under the law

A state Superior Court judge last week ruled New Jersey must allow gay couples to get married. Lonegan said the ruling on same-sex marriage should be made by the state Legislature or people of New Jersey, not a judge.

Booker disagreed and said that as an African-American, he would "not be standing here right now if judges didn't say everyone in America is equal under the law."

"The ability to marry the person you love is one of the most fundamental liberties in America," he added.

Source: Newark Star-Ledger coverage of 2013 N.J. Senate debate , Oct 5, 2013

MLK's dream still demands work to do, after 50 years

Q: Here's what you said at the Martin Luther King ceremony:

(VIDEO) BOOKER: The truth of the matter is that the dream still demands that the moral conscience of our country still calls us, that hope still needs heroes. We need to understand that there is still work to do.

Q: What is the legacy of the "I Have a Dream" speech? There's only one other African American US Senator; one African American Governor; one African American president. Progress, but still uneven when it comes to elected office. Is that how Dr. King saw the dream playing out 50 years later?

BOOKER: Well, I think that these positions are important. But I think the matter in what drove the march, was not simply propelling people to elected office, it was dealing with the larger issues of inequality. Not only racial inequality, but frankly the challenge we faced then in our nations till now and the dramatic differences between rich and poor and the challenges we have and had then in America and we still have now with poverty.

Source: Meet the Press 2013 on 2014 New Jersey Senate race , Aug 25, 2013

Equal marriage rights for same-sex couples are coming

I don't think that we as a country should allow religious differences to undermine the forces that protect the individuality and the uniqueness and diversity of our Nation. I think one of the most intimate choices one can make is who to spend your life with and to be able to choose someone to be your life partner, and proclaim it to the world, "This is my spouse. This is my chosen soul that I am going to take on the world with." To me is such an intimate personal issue, but it also should be a fundamental right when you are in America. I think it's wrong that I can marry certain Americans or Newark residents and I can't marry others. This is a same sex couple. Right now, the law says in New Jersey that I can't marry them. Until I can marry people equally, I don't think I should be doing that at all. I think people need to know what I know with great certainty that equal marriage rights are coming.
Source: YouTube video interview, "FreedomToMarry" , Jun 30, 2010

Until college, tolerated gays but was disgusted personally

I was in my tolerance stage or the "I don't give a damn if someone is gay, just as long as they don't bother me" stage. I was well trained in my tolerance. I stopped telling my gay jokes. Of course, I had my gay friend.

Yet, while I was highly adroit at maintaining an air of acceptance, I was disgusted by gays.

I still remember how my brow would often unconsciously furrow when I was with gays as thoughts would flash in my mind, "What sinners I am amongst" or "How unnatural these people are."

[I embraced gay rights after a conversation with a gay counselor].

Source: Stanford Daily column (student newspaper), vol. 201, #33 , Apr 8, 1992

Growing up gay today is like growing up Black decades ago

Our gay counselor [had with me] our first real conversation about homosexuality. He told me of people who religiously prayed to God to help them become straight. He told me of the years of denial and the pain of always feeling different. And he told me of the violence--violence from strangers and family, horrible images of beatings.

It was chilling to find that so much of the testimony was almost identical to stories my grandparents told me about growing up Black. People found it revolting to share a meal with them and often felt it to be their duty to beat them so that they would learn proper living.

In these efforts I have found another community with which I feel akin and from which I draw strength. The gay people with whom I am close are some of the strongest people I know--and their demands for justice are no less imperative than those of any other community.

Source: Stanford Daily column (student newspaper), vol. 201, #33 , Apr 8, 1992

Enforce against wage discrimination based on gender.

Booker co-sponsored Paycheck Fairness Act

    Congress finds the following:
  1. Women have entered the workforce in record numbers over the past 50 years.
  2. Despite the enactment of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, many women continue to earn significantly lower pay than men for equal work. These pay disparities exist in both the private and governmental sectors. In many instances, the pay disparities can only be due to continued intentional discrimination or the lingering effects of past discrimination.
  3. The existence of such pay disparities depresses the wages of working families who rely on the wages of all members of the family to make ends meet; and undermines women's retirement security.
  4. Artificial barriers to the elimination of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex continue to exist decades after the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. These barriers have resulted because the Equal Pay Act has not worked as Congress originally intended.
  5. The Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have important and unique responsibilities to help ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.
  6. The Department of Labor is responsible for investigating and prosecuting equal pay violations, especially systemic violations, and in enforcing all of its mandates.
  7. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the primary enforcement agency for claims made under the Equal Pay Act.
  8. With a stronger commitment [to enforcement], increased information on wage data and more effective remedies, women will be better able to recognize and enforce their rights.
  9. Certain employers have already made great strides in eradicating unfair pay disparities in the workplace and their achievements should be recognized.
Source: S.84&H.R.377 13-S0084 on Jan 23, 2013

Let states recognize same sex marriage.

Booker signed Respect for Marriage Act

Congressional Summary: Amends the Defense of Marriage Act to let states recognize same sex marriage. Defines "marriage" to provide that an individual shall be considered married if that individual's marriage is valid in the state or country where the marriage was entered into. Removes the definition of "spouse" (currently, a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife).

Wikipedia and GLAAD history: In United States v. Windsor (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) struck down the act's provisions disallowing same-sex marriages to be performed under federal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court case did not challenge Section 2 of DOMA. Section 2 declares that all states have the right to deny recognition of the marriage of same sex couples that originated in states where they are legally recognized.

Heritage Foundation recommendation to vote NO: (3/20/2013): Americans respect marriage, not only as a crucial institution of civil society but the fundamental building block of all human civilization. This is why 41 states and the federal government affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman. The government isn't in the business of affirming our loves. Rather it leaves consenting adults free to live and love as they choose. And contrary to what some say, there is no ban on same-sex marriage. In all 50 states, two people of the same sex may choose to live together, and choose to join a religious community that blesses their relationship. What's at issue is whether the government will recognize such relationships as marriages--and compel others to recognize and affirm same-sex relationships as marriages.

Legislative outcome: Died in Committee (never came to a vote).

Source: S.29 & H.197 17-S0029 on Jan 6, 2015

Maintain LGBT health info on federal websites.

Booker signed Letter from 19 Senators to President Trump

We write to you to express serious concerns about the removal of critical LGBT health and scientific information from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website, and the removal of LGBT population-based data reports from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website. These actions reveal a pattern of censorship that fosters discrimination and undermines access to evidence-based health care resources that aid millions across the country.

Administration officials claim that this online information is integrated elsewhere, being updated, or temporarily down for maintenance. We have seen previous Administrations undermine LGBT health due to ideological pressure from conservative organizations by abruptly deleting online health information--similarly under the guise of site maintenance.

You have repeatedly broken your campaign promises to support and protect the LGBT community, and this latest assault on a vulnerable population could further compromise the health of more than ten million LGBT people. We are concerned that you are putting politics ahead of science and access to evidence-based health care that is critical for millions, and so we call on you to reverse course to ensure that our federal programs serve the needs of all people.
Source: Letter from 19 Senators to President Trump 18LTR-LGBT on Apr 12, 2018

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