Mondaire Jones & Ritchie Torres could bring needed Black, LGBTQ representation to government

A hand putting a card marked "vote" into a ballot box
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I was absolutely thrilled by the results in the primaries for U.S. Congress that took place this past Tuesday. No, not the win by Madison Cawthorn, the 24-year old “hot” pro-Trump Republican in North Carolina who many on “gay Twitter” seem to be excited about (and who seems primed to become Aaron Schock 2.0).

No, I was super excited by the probable victories of both Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres in their races to be the Democratic nominees in the 15th and 17th congressional districts of New York, respectively.

Related: Andrea Jenkins is one of the first Black, trans elected officials. She’s building bridges.

I have known about Torres since his early days on the New York City Council and have been following closely since his campaign for Congress began; Jones I was not as familiar with but, once I read more about him, find to be incredibly impressive.

Both men, if elected in November (which is very likely given their strong progressive districts), will be the first openly gay African-American men elected to the U.S. Congress. This would be a monumental achievement under any circumstance, but given the recent struggles we have been going through as a country when it comes to racism, their milestone is even more important.

Harvey Milk, back in the mid-1970’s, talked about the importance of LGBTQ representation in government. Since that time five decades ago we have seen an increase in terms of LGBTQ representation at all levels of government.

However, there are two major caveats –  LGBTQ elected officials have been white, and most have been in the L, G and B categories vs. T and Q.

As we, as LGBTQ people, move past the marriage equality and DADT list of political priorities and into a more comprehensive, all-encompassing conversation about issues like housing, healthcare, immigration, and criminal justice reform, it’s critical that we have LGBTQ politicians in government that represent as diverse a cross section of our community as the rest of the country.

This is also, on a broader level, another reason why I believe it is so critical that Joe Biden pick an African-American woman as his running mate: representation is key. It’s critical that he have a voice at the table that can speak to the issues we have on race in America in a personal way from firsthand experience.

I wrote a piece for this website back in December that Kamala Harris should be the VP nominee, but Val Demings or Karen Bass would make great choices as well.

We will find out Biden’s decision soon, but either way I am so heartened by the progress we’ve seen in recent days in terms of inclusivity in Washington. Let’s hope this is just the beginning.

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