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Op-Ed: Why I Believe Julián Castro Should Be the Next President

Op-Ed: Why I Believe Julián Castro Should Be the Next President

“We need a leader who can answer tough questions or admit when the system is flawed and needs to be challenged and changed.”

In this op-ed series published exclusively on, LGBTQ+ people discuss their support for the major contenders in the 2020 presidential primaries. Participating candidates include Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bloomberg, and Cory Booker, and one editorial will be published every weekday. In today's installment, New Mexico State Senator Jacob Candelaria explains why he's Team Julian Castro.

The Trump administration is a moral and policy failure. For many folks in the LGBTQ+ and Latinx community, both queer and non-queer undocumented immigrants, the reality of the current administration has become daily battle for survival against racist rhetoric and state-sanctioned police and court action.

I refuse to accept that this is the America we believe in or aspire to be. That is why I believe Julian Castro should be the next president of the United States.

The 2020 election is about who we are as a country, and whether the common values that both inspire and challenge us -- the ideas or equality under the law, equal protection, and equal opportunity -- are worth fighting for. I believe they are.

I am supporting Julian Castro because he has the experience and courage of conviction to govern, and to lift up, in a real way, the voices of communities that have traditionally been excluded from American political and economic life.

Not only has he lifted up the voices of today, but he did so when others would not and at a time well before the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality. Secretary Castro was the first mayor of San Antonio to lead the San Antonio Pride Parade as Grand Marshal, a decision that many of his colleagues stood against. He then spent the next two years working to extend same-sex partners benefits to City of San Antonio's employees.

In 2012, Secretary Castro signed on to the "Mayors for the Freedom to Marry" petition calling for equal marriage rights and in 2013, he implemented an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance because "there are no second class citizens in San Antonio."

Leading to his presidential candidacy, Secretary Castro has always been an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, from his time in the City Council to his remarks on the debate stage when he said, "I don't believe only in reproductive freedom. I believe in reproductive justice."

I decided to endorse Julian Castro last month when he challenged the Democratic National Committee primary election calendar for excluding the meaningful participation of communities of color in selecting the party's nominee. Since the beginning of his campaign, Julian has been fearless and truth-telling in his message to be a voice for poor communities, communities of color, the LGBTQ+ community and those whose voices are often left behind. He continues to challenge the systems of power and oppression.

For decades, the states of Iowa and New Hampshire have a privileged role in the nominating process. When asked if the order of our primary states should change, Castro replied without hesitation, "Yes, of course." These states are not representative of our party or our country. People of my background and race do not see our voices represented in the "democratic" process.

We need a leader who can answer tough questions or admit when the system is flawed and needs to be challenged and changed.

As queer people, we encounter systems of oppression and discrimination every day. In our work lives, in our public lives, and, sadly, in our own family lives. I'm with Julian in this race because he has the courage to lead with his values and to challenge the powerful alongside us. He doesn't do this for his own political benefit; he does it because it helps our community.

The contemporary American LGBTQ+ movement -- led by drag queens, people of color and those society would rather keep locked in a closet -- traces its beginnings to Stonewall. At a time of great division and uncertainty for our country, we do not have the privilege to stay quiet. Neither does our next president. That's why I'm with Julian. I am a proud, openly gay Latinx/Chicanx man, and I will be casting my ballot for Julian Castro as the next president of the United States. I hope you will join me.

In 2012, Jacob Candelaria became the first openly gay man elected to the New Mexico Legislature. He and his husband live and work in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

RELATED |Op-Ed: Why I Believe Pete Buttigieg Should Be the Next President

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