Cory Booker on Civil Rights



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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Other big-city mayors on Civil Rights: Cory Booker on other issues:

Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee)
Bill de Blasio (D,NYC)
Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
Bob Filner (D,San Diego)
Steven Fulop (D,Jersey City)
Eric Garcetti (D,Los Angeles)
Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Marty Walsh (D,Boston)

Former Mayors:
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
Tom Menino (D,Boston)
Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
Annise Parker (D,Houston)
Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)
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Page last updated: Sep 12, 2018