Ritchie Torres To Become First Openly Gay Afro-Latino Member Of Congress
by Adrian Garcia
Democratic New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres made history Tuesday night by becoming the first openly gay, Afro-Latino member
of Congress after winning one of the country’s most Democratic-leaning House seats.
The 32-year-old City Council member defeated Republican Patrick Delices to become the next representative from the 15th
Congressional District, which covers the South Bronx.
“Tonight, a new era begins for the South Bronx,” Torres said in a statement. “It is the honor of a lifetime to represent a borough filled with
essential workers who have risked their lives so that New York City could live.
“The Bronx is essential, and the vibrant, loving and talented people who live here have shown time and again their power, fortune and
perseverance. The Bronx is the heartbeat of New York City,” he added.
Torres, who identifies as Afro-Latino and has served in the City Council since 2013, beat out nearly a dozen other Dems in the June
primary after Rep. Jose Serrano announced his retirement earlier this year.
“In a crowded primary field, Ritchie Torres was the clear standout candidate as the youngest Latino elected to the NYC Council, the son of
a single working mother from the Bronx and a champion for the essential workers of New York City,” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.),
chairman of Bold PAC.
“His victory is a testament to the Hispanic Caucus’ commitment to expanding our Caucus with diverse voices by investing in candidates
like Ritchie Torres, who is soon to be the first openly LGBTQ+ Afro- Latino Member of Congress,” Cárdenas added.
N.Y. candidates become first openly gay Black men elected to Congress
It’s official: Voters in New York have gave final approval Tuesday night to U.S. House candidates Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres,
making them the first openly gay Black candidates elected to Congress.
Jones was elected in New York’s 15th congressional district in the Bronx and Torres prevailed in New York’s 17th congressional district
upstate. The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which seeks to elect political candidates to public office, called the races in favor of Jones and Torres
polls closed in New York at 9 pm.
Both candidates were running in among the most “blue” districts in the United States, so their wins against Republican challengers were
expected. The major hurdle for them was winning their Democratic primaries, which they did in June 23. (However, it took state officials in
NY-17 six weeks to count the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots and officially declare Torres the winner.)
Torres won a crowded primary in which his main opponent was New York City Council member Ruben Diaz Sr., who’s one of the few
remaining anti-LGBTQ Democrats and once said the council is “controlled by the homosexual community.” After his defeat, Diaz
announced he’d retire from politics.
In an interview with the Washington Blade in September, Torres said he wants to pursue big changes in the style of President Franklin
Roosevelt to lift up the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have a once in a century opportunity to make a massive investment in the United States, on the scale of the New Deal,” Torres said.
“We have a once in a century opportunity to fight catastrophic climate change, create the next generation of jobs, enable our economy and
society to recover from COVID-19 and build a comprehensive safety net that catches all of us when we fall and fight systemic racism,
which has been centuries old. We are living in the makings of an FDR moment.”
In addition to being one of the first openly gay Black candidates elected to Congress, Torres would be also be the first out Afro-Latino
elected to Congress.
Jones, who won his primary in NY-15 by riding an insurgent wave against Democratic incumbents, said in a interview with the New York
Times in July his primary win demonstrates voters have embraced progressive values on combating climate change and racial injustice.
“Growing up poor, Black, and gay, I never imagined someone like me could run for Congress, let alone win,” Jones is quoted as saying.
“Indeed, in the 244-year history of the United States, there has never been an openly gay, Black member of Congress. That changes this
Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement Jones and Torres “shattered a rainbow ceiling and will bring unique
perspectives based on lived experiences never before represented in the U.S. Congress.”
“As our nation grapples with racism, police brutality and a pandemic that disproportionally affects people of color and LGBTQ people,
these are the voices that can pull us from the brink and toward a more united and fair society,” Parker said. “Their elections will end any
doubts about the electability of Black LGBTQ men to our nation’s highest legislative body. It will also inspire more young LGBTQ leaders
and leaders of color to run and serve.”
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