Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones Become First Openly Gay Black Members of Congress
Though many people are still waiting to learn who will be the next President of the United States, election night did indeed yield some positive news and historic firsts.
In the state of New York, Democrats Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones won their congressional races, making them the first openly gay Black members of Congress.
The two representative-elects will serve the state of New York, filling its 15th and 17th District seats. Torres is replacing retiring Rep. José Serrano in the 15th District and Jones replace retiring Rep. Nita Lowey in New York’s 17th District.
"It is a lot of responsibility," said Torres in a CBS interview after winning his primary election. "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. 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."
Currently, there are nine openly LGBTQ members of Congress, seven are white, one is Asian-American and one is Native American, including Rep. Mark Takano, who became the first openly gay person of color in Congress when he was elected in 2012, and Rep. Sharice Davids, elected in 2018, who is the first openly gay woman of color in Congress.
Torres, who identifies as both Black and Latino, will also be the first openly gay Latino member of Congress.
He made history before back in 2013 when he became the first openly gay elected official from the Bronx, when he was elected to the New York City Council.
Torres was also the youngest member of the City Council at the time.
And it was that success that caused Jones to run as an openly gay candidate also. A Harvard Law graduate, Jones announced his candidacy while working for the Westchester County Law Department.