In this op-ed series published exclusively on Out.com, LGBTQ+ people discuss their support for the major contenders in the 2020 presidential primaries. Participating candidates include Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bloomberg, and Julián Castro, and one editorial will be published every weekday. In today’s installment, Garrett Muscatel of the New Hampshire General Court — the state's legislature — explains why he believes Cory Booker should be the next president of the United States.
Here in New Hampshire, we’re fortunate for the chance to meet most of the candidates running for president. With so many Democrats seeking the nomination, meeting and examining the entire field has become almost a full-time job. But one candidate stands out and has earned my support in this race: Cory Booker.
I’ve had the chance to get to know Cory as he’s campaigned in our state. As the youngest openly LGBTQ+ state legislator in the country serving here in the New Hampshire legislature, I know that in order to beat Donald Trump, our Democratic nominee must be someone who can unite our party across generational, geographic, and demographic divides, and our president must be someone who leads with character, compassion, and conviction. There is no one in this race I trust more to do that than Cory.
As I’ve come to know Cory, it’s become clear that he deeply understands issues affecting my generation, from voting rights and climate change to the exorbitant cost of college. But when it comes to advancing LGBTQ+ rights, Cory’s track record and the proposals he’ll pursue as president are especially impressive. He is and has been an ally of the LGBTQ+ community throughout his career in public service.
When Cory was mayor of Newark, the largest city in his state, the very first flag he raised above City Hall in 2007 was the Pride Flag, and the first wedding he officiated as mayor — after refusing to officiate any weddings until all people had the right to marry the person of their choice — was a same-sex wedding in 2013, when marriage equality became the law in New Jersey. In the U.S. Senate, Cory has been a fierce advocate for our community, from helping to introduce the Equality Act, which would extend critical civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, to fighting against so-called “conversion therapy” to standing up for LGBTQ+ youth.
In his presidential campaign, Cory has centered LGBTQ+ issues in the national conversation and on the debate stage; in June, he was the first candidate to call attention to the murders of black transgender women.
As president, Cory will fight to finally pass the Equality Act into law. He will ensure that all of his judicial nominees will uphold LGBTQ+ rights and will reverse the immoral ban on transgender Americans serving openly in the military. Cory will also prioritize protecting the rights of all Americans when it comes to his administration. Unlike Betsy DeVos, Cory’s Secretary of Education will protect all of our children, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
And Cory will appoint an Attorney General who will actually stand up against employment discrimination and prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law. Going even further, he’ll create a White House Office on Hate Crimes and White Supremacist Violence, which will focus its efforts on coordinating federal agencies to combat hate crimes and provide support to communities and victims of hate crimes.
Each of these proposals is exactly what we need from our next president and will improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people. However, they won’t become a reality unless our nominee has a proven ability to make change happen.
Cory does. He has shown a unique ability to get results by bringing diverse, sometimes uncommon, coalitions together to make progress. Just look at how he led on long overdue criminal justice reform that became law in December 2018 — the only major bipartisan bill signed into law under Donald Trump. If Cory can succeed in the most challenging of circumstances, just imagine what he’ll be able to do in the Oval Office.
Cory also knows that beating Donald Trump is the floor, not the ceiling, of what we must achieve in 2020. Democrats must also win back the Senate so that Mitch McConnell is no longer setting the agenda. The party must hold its majority in the House of Representatives. Democrats must flip governorships, state legislatures, and city council seats and excite enough voters to build a movement election that will allow Cory as president, together with all of us, to usher in the long overdue changes that will protect LGBTQ+ rights, save our planet, make voting accessible to all — and much, much more.
Cory is the best candidate to inspire voters to get out to the polls in the key states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — states that Trump narrowly won — and expand the electoral map to states like Arizona, Georgia, Texas, and the Carolinas. When we nominate Cory, take back the White House, and win seats up and down the ballot, Washington and our country will look much different starting in January 2021.
With President Booker, we will make great progress in becoming a more perfect nation for everyone.
Garrett Muscatel, 20, was elected in 2018 and represents Grafton County District 12. He is the youngest openly LGBTQ+ person ever elected to office in the United States. Muscatel is a senior at Dartmouth College and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging SB3, legislation that makes voting more difficult for college students, veterans, and others.