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Human Rights Campaign endorses Mondaire Jones in race to replace Nita Lowey in NY

Human Rights Campaign endorses Mondaire Jones in race to replace Nita Lowey in NY
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The Human Rights Campaign on Thursday endorsed progressive Mondaire Jones in the race to replace retiring Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyTrump seeks to freeze .4 billion of programs in final week of presidency This week: Trump's grip on Hill allies faces test Trump signs .3T relief, spending package MORE (D-N.Y.) in New York's 17th District.

Jones, who would be the first black openly LGBTQ member of Congress if elected, is facing off against seven other Democrats ahead of the primary next week.

“Mondaire Jones has used his life to make our nation a more equal and just place. Today, we’re proud to endorse him to bring his voice to the halls of Congress,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement first obtained by The Hill.

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The endorsement comes as members of the LGBTQ community and supporters celebrate Pride Month, touting a Supreme Court ruling on Monday that gay and transgender people are protected against employment discrimination under existing civil rights laws.

It also comes as the U.S. grapples with the issue of racial justice following the police killings of unarmed black people including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks.

Jones told The Hill the national moment holds major significance for himself and his campaign. 

"Growing up poor, black, and gay in Section 8 housing, I never imagined that someone like me could run for Congress, let along be successful in a run for Congress," Jones said. "I didn't think that the country would be ready to accept someone who is gay, like myself. In fact, for most of my life, I never seriously considered running for office for that reason." 

Jones said his campaign platform is aimed at empowering members of the LGBTQ community by pushing for measures like "Medicare for All" and affordable housing.

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"LGBTQIA Americans disproportionately have difficulty getting the necessary medical care, and experience homelessness at a rate that is far higher than cisgender, straight people in our society," Jones said. "So we must have a broad conception of equity and justice for the community."

"My lived experiences give me a sense of urgency that the other candidates simply do not bring to this race and would not bring to Washington," he said. 

Jones is facing off against half a dozen other contenders in the race to replace Lowey in the 17th District, which includes portions of Rockland and Westchester counties.

He has received a number of high-profile progressive endorsements from figures such as Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Next steps in the Trump impeachment Sanders selling sweatshirts with his famous inauguration pose for charity Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-Mass.) as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez says lawmakers fear colleagues sneaking firearms on House floor Ocasio-Cortez spent inauguration evening supporting striking workers in New York Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated MORE (D-N.Y.).

Public Policy Poll released on Wednesday shows Jones with an 11-point lead in the race, with 25 percent support. The poll was conducted among 1,141 likely Democratic primary voters. 

The New York Democratic primary is scheduled for June 23.