Home News Afro Briefs Originally published August 30, 2013

Gay Rumors Persist But Don’t Distract Cory Booker’s Senatorial Campaign

by Zenitha Prince
Special to the AFRO

  •   Click on the photo to view additional Photos.
    Newark Mayor Cory Booker announces a wish list for reforming the criminal justice system at Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Jersey City, N.J. The desires by Booker, who is running for U.S. Senate, includes ending mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses; ending prison privatization; using more federal funds for drug treatment and education programs for prisoners and a national conversation on legalizing marijuana. The announcement was made at the church where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke weeks before he was assassinated. Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of King's speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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The U.S. Senate campaign of Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker is being overrun by rumors about his sexuality, but the celebrity politician seems to be taking it in stride.

“…People who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia,” Booker, the Democratic nominee for the seat, said in an interview with The Washington Post published on Aug. 26. “I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.’ ”

The 44-year-old son of affluent business executives has long been plagued by questions about the fact that he is not married, which some have attributed to his alleged homosexuality. And his deliberate ambiguity on the matter has only fueled the gossip.

Steve Lonegan, Booker’s Republican rival for the New Jersey Senate seat, told Newsmax's Steve Malzberg that he thought it was "weird" that he was unwilling to answer the question, speculating that maybe "it helps get him the gay vote by acting ambiguous."

Lonegan made sure to assert that he is a real man because "as a guy, I personally like being a guy," compared to Booker, who, he noted, reportedly loves a good manicure and pedicure.

"It was described as his peculiar fetish," Lonegan said. "I have a more peculiar fetish: I like a good Scotch and a cigar, that's my fetish. But we'll just compare the two.”

Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes,” tried to push Booker to make a more definitive statement Thursday night, saying that when people like Booker come out it can have a “very positive political effect.”

But Booker blasted Lonegan for implying “you are not a man if you’re gay,” and told the host that his sexuality was irrelevant.

“The question really should not be am I gay or straight. The question should be, why the heck are you asking the question in the first place? It doesn’t make a whit of difference what kind of senator I’m going to be or not,” said Booker.

“I have affirmed my sexual orientation numerous times over the years,” he said. “People in my local press world know exactly what that is.

“We need to stop in America talking about anybody in a public realm, besides what is important–the content of their character, the quality of their ideas, the courage within their hearts to serve others. That’s what’s important.”

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