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Two New Yorkers become first openly gay Black men to be elected to Congress

Mondaire Jones said being the first openly Black gay Congressperson comes with "a lot of responsibility."

Two New Yorkers become first openly gay Black men to be elected to Congress
Left: Mondaire Jones/Twitter/MondaireJones Right: Ritchie Torres/Twitter/RitchieTorres

Democrats Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones have become the first openly gay Black men to be elected to Congress. The pair were elected as House representatives on Tuesday night. Ritchie Torres will represent New York’s 15th District, while Jones will represent New York’s 17th District when they take office in January. “It is the honor of a lifetime to represent a borough filled with essential workers who risked their lives to that New York City could live. My pledge to the district is simple: I will fight for you,” said Torres in a statement, reported People. “The Bronx is my home, it is what made me who I am, and it is what I will fight for in Congress.” Mondaire Jones said being the first openly Black gay Congressperson comes with "a lot of responsibility." As of now, there are nine openly LGBTQ members of Congress, including seven representatives and two House senators.



Torres, who has been a City Councilman since 2013, defeated Republican Patrick Delices to secure his entry into the lower rung of Congress. Ritchie Torres won the primary in June, defeating fellow City Councilmember Ruben Diaz Sr. This was on the back of Representative Jose Serrano announcing his retirement. Torres' victory over Ruben Diaz Sr. was significant considering Diaz Sr. has a history of making homophobic comments. Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, called gay people “cursed” and had also voted against legalizing same-sex marriage in 2009 and 2011 as a member of the New York State Senate, reported NBC News. Torres' work as a council member also saw him working to provide more support to the LGBTQ community, including providing better mental health resources. According to his website, some of his achievements include fighting the opioid epidemic in New York and passing legislation to protect the city’s affordable housing stock.


He has also been pushing for police reform and accountability. "There's never going to be an end to police brutality," said Torres on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “Police departments across the country cannot be trusted to police themselves. There has to be an independent system for investigating, punishing and, if necessary, prosecuting police misconduct,” said Torres. He was also subject to a homophobic tweet from Ed Mullins, president of the New York Police Department’s Sergeants Benevolent Association. After being criticized for police brutality, Mullins called Torres a "first-class whore." Torres hit back, tweeting: Calling an openly LGBTQ Afro-Latino a ‘first-class whore.’ There is NOTHING benevolent about the bigotry of the @SBANYPD. Ed Mullins must resign. 


Mondaire Jones graduated from Harvard and also served in the Obama administration in the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice. Jones defeated Republican Maureen McArdle Schulman to become a House representative. Jones will replace Nita Lowey, another representative who's retiring. Jones is the founder of the nonprofit Rising Leaders Inc., which teaches leadership skills to underserved middle-school students in three cities.


Jones is happy to take on the mantle of being the first openly gay Black men to be elected to Congress. "I'm happy to be providing that kind of representation for so many young people and older people all throughout my district and all throughout this country who have reached out to me and said, 'I'm so inspired by what you're doing,’” he told CBS News. “’You give me hope and I can be my authentic self in a world filled with so much injustice,' and it's really an honor to be able to do that."


Sarah McBride became the highest-ranking openly trans official in America after winning a seat in Delaware’s state Senate. The Democrat defeated Republican Steve Washington to secure a seat in the upper rung of Congress. “I’m humbled by the support of neighbors and ready to work every day to make a difference in the lives of all the residents of the First Senate District,” said McBride, reported The Huffington Post. “I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too. As Delaware continues to face the COVID crisis, it’s time to get to work to invest in the policies that will make a difference for working families.”

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