This week, we’ve learned what issues Republican candidate Steve Lonegan considers most important in the New Jersey Senate race: that maybe Cory Booker could be gay, and that Steve Lonegan does not enjoy manicures, thank you very much.
In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Cory Booker addressed the rumors that he’s gay in an extremely classy manner:
“And people who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. 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.’” (emphasis ours)
Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan responded to these tasteful and measured remarks by hitting back with playground insults and, frankly, some pretty strange thoughts of his own, in a Newsmax interview discovered by Right Wing Watch:
"It's kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy. I don't know if you saw the stories last year. They've been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at three o'clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure."
Doubling down on these thinly-veiled insinuations about Booker’s sexuality, he continued to obsess over what Booker’s “fetish” might be:
"I don't like going out in the middle of the night, or any time of the day, for a manicure and pedicure. It was described as his peculiar fetish. 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."
Not much can be said about that, other than: what? (Also, where can I find one of these late-night pedicures? They sound super fun.)
Today, Booker responded to Lonegan’s pathetic attacks:
“’It's just disheartening to hear somebody, in this day and age, in the United States of America, say basically ... that gay men are not men, they're not guys,’ he said in an interview with HuffPost Live, referring to remarks made by Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan. ‘It's shocking to one's conscience in this country, where we believe that the content of one's character, the courage in one's heart, the strength of one's sense of purpose, the love that one has for others and their service, is what defines them. And instead he's challenging the masculinity of millions of Americans.’”
If it was encouraging to see Booker refuse to engage in the childish and irrelevant rumor-mill politics that led to these questions in the first place, it’s absolutely fantastic to see that he isn’t backing down after Lonegan’s bizarre, homophobic and embarrassing rant. Hopefully, it’s a sign that we’re moving away from this nasty politics of hate—to a place where these types of comments are enough to sink a campaign. But please, Steve, do tell us more about your fetishes.
This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved five nominees to serve on federal district courts in New York, California and Florida and on the US Court of International Trade. A week ago, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley postponed votes on all five nominations without giving a reason, a delaying tactic that he has used on 97 percent of President Obama’s judicial nominees who the committee has voted on.
Sen. Grassley did not explain the reason for the delay last week, when a coalition of Iowa and national groups urged him to stop such routine delays. And the reason remained unclear today, as all five nominees were approved without opposition.
These five nominees now join fifteen other federal judicial nominees awaiting confirmation votes from the full Senate. The Senate has made progress by scheduling confirmation votes on four unopposed district court nominees in the past week, but that small amount of progress isn’t nearly enough to fill the gaps in overworked federal courts. Seven of the nominees still waiting for votes would fill officially-designated “judicial emergencies.”
It would be easy, of course, for the Senate to hold votes on all of the remaining nominees before the end of the year. After all, most were approved by the Judiciary Committee many months ago. But Senate Republicans have continued to stall even nominees with strong bipartisan support. All the circuit court nominees waiting for votes have the support of their home-state senators, Republican and Democratic, and nearly all of the pending district court nominees were approved by the Judiciary Committee with unanimous or nearly unanimous bipartisan support. One circuit court nominee, New Jersey’s Patty Shwartz, has been waiting nine months just for an up-or-down vote from the Senate; Federal Circuit nominee Richard Taranto has also been waiting since March.
If the Senate fails to vote on these nominees during the lame duck, the confirmation process – from presidential nomination through floor vote – will have to start all over again next year.
Notable about the district court nominees approved by the Judiciary Committee today is that all are women or people of color, representative of President Obama’s efforts to bring diversity to the federal courts. The nominees also include New York’s Pamela Chen, who would become just the fifth openly gay person to be confirmed to a lifetime federal judgeship.
Yesterday, the New Jersey Assembly joined with the State Senate and passed a bill endorsing same-sex marriage in a 42 to 33 vote. If marriage equality becomes law, New Jersey will become the eighth state to destroy what the Assembly speaker called one of the “last legalized barriers to equal rights.”
In a pivotal moment, New Jersey lawmakers did more than stand up for the institution of marriage; they chose to begin legally recognizing and protecting the civil rights of every resident of their state. They showed that no matter who one loves, the state should not limit the ability to fully commit to that person. As Newark Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker put it, “I came to the conclusion that the people sent me here from my district, here to protect what’s right…To protect the rights of everyone.”
Unfortunately, Governor Chris Christie has sworn to veto the new legislation, insisting that the legislature subject the basic civil rights of their fellow citizens to a referendum.
Proponents of marriage equality are not accepting this alternative, and are preparing to form even stronger coalitions to override Gov. Christie’s impending veto. Polls indicate growing support for same-sex marriage among voters, a trend that will likely continue over the next two years, providing the support the legislature needs to override the veto.
New Jersey’s legislature made history by passing a marriage equality bill. Governor Christie should do the same by signing it into law.