Cory Booker on Gay Rumors: So What Does It Matter If I Am?

The Newark mayor is running against Steve Lonegan for the U.S. Senate seat that became available when Frank Lautenberg died

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Newark Mayor Cory Booker says it doesn't matter whether he's gay, so he's not going to answer the question.

    The Democrat, who's running to fill the late Frank Lautenberg's New Jersey seat in the U.S. Senate, told the Washington Post when asked about the persistent rumors swirling around his sexual orientation that he's not going to feed the fire.

    "People who think I'm gay, some part of me thinks it's wonderful, because I want to challenge people on their homophobia," Booker told the Post. "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."

    Booker has been asked the question for years, dating back to when former Newark Mayor Sharpe James' allies started spreading the rumor he was gay when he tried to unseat him in 2002. Four years later, a voter asked him about it before he became mayor. 

    Booker, Lonegan Win NJ Special US Primaries

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    Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a rising star in the Democratic party, and Steve Lonegan, a Republican former mayor, won their parties' primaries on Tuesday to set up a campaign of political and stylistic contrasts as they seek to fill the final 15 months of the term of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Pat Battle and Brian Thompson report.

    The rumors resurfaced last year when Booker weighed running against Republican Gov. Chris Christie, and when a fake Facebook page created in his name declared him "out."

    In the past, his staff has said he "likes the ladies."

    Asked Tuesday about his discussion of the matter with the Washington Post, Booker told The Star-Ledger, he wanted to stick to the key issues of his campaign against former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, and his sexual orientation isn't one of them.

    "I don't intend to answer," he told the paper. "It should not matter. That was my point. We need to understand that race, religion, sexual orientation, all of these things are not germane to a person's ability to lead the state of New Jersey."

    Lonegan told The Star-Ledger he doesn't care about his opponent's sexual orientation either. 

    "I care about his failed record in Newark," Lonegan said. "He's too liberal for New Jersey and he wants to bring his failed policies to the federal level."

    Booker, 44, has been openly critical of Christie's opposition to same-sex marriage.