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12 queer and trans lawmakers who broke new ground with glorious rainbow wave in the US election

Emma Powys Maurice November 4, 2020
US election

The US election has seen wins for Charmaine McGuffey, Shevrin Jones, Sarah McBride, Michele Rayner-Goolsby and many other LGBT+ candidates

The US election result remains unconfirmed but there’s still a lot to celebrate as a new rainbow wave of LGBT+ victories emerges across the country.

There were nearly 600 out candidates on the ballot this year, a record number that reflects stronger support for queer people among ordinary Americans.

Dozens have already won their races, and while Trump has made more gains in the US election than anyone predicted, the historic wins keep on coming. Here are some of the big ones.

Mauree Turner, Oklahoma’s 88th Congressional District.

Mauree Turner has become the very first non-binary state lawmaker in US history. The Democratic community organiser and queer Muslim won election to district 88 in Oklahoma City, winning out over Republican Kelly Barlean with a projected 71 per cent of the vote.

Ahead of the US election, they told HuffPost: “I’m Black, Muslim, femme, queer, born and raised in Oklahoma – politics was the last thing in my crosshairs.

“Oklahomans have representation that doesn’t have our shared lived experience – that hasn’t been in a family that had to live off SNAP benefits, [or] a single-parent household because one parent was incarcerated. That was my upbringing, and it’s not a unique one.”

Michele Rayner-Goolsby, Florida’s House of Representatives.

Michele Rayner-Goolsby is the first Black queer woman to win a seat in the Florida legislature. She will represent District 70 in the State House after winning 30 per cent of the vote in a crowded race against three opponents.

It’s not the first glass ceiling she’s shattered: Rayner-Goolsby is also a civil rights attorney, social justice advocate and lead counsel of Civil Liberty Law, her own law firm.

“It really has been a people powered campaign” she told the Tampa Bay Times, saying that she sees her victory as “pushing back on patriarchy.”

“We ran with integrity. We ran with transparency and we ran with accountability.”

Shevrin Jones, Florida State Senate.

Joining Rayner in the Sunshine state is Shevrin Jones, Florida’s first out LGBT+ state senator. He’ll be one of the only out Black men serving in US state senates as he represents District 35.

Jones came out as gay in 2018, explaining he had decided to start living his truth “just a little bit more” after the death of his older brother. He has since become a powerful voice for LGBT+ rights in Florida.

“I’m humbled to have earned the trust of the people of SD 35,” he tweeted after the result was announced. “I am looking forward to serving you in the Florida Senate. Thank YOU! #WEthePEOPLE.”

Shevrin Jones Florida blood donation
Shevrin Jones (John Parra/WireImage)

Kim Jackson, Georgia State Senate.

The Black lesbian Episcopal priest and social justice advocate was a clear winner in her US election race, holding approximately three-fourths of the vote. She’s now the first out member of Georgia’s State Senate.

Raised in a rural town in South Carolina, Jackson moved to Georgia a decade ago and has become a powerful advocate for public education, criminal justice reform, ending the death penalty, and of course, LGBT+ equality.

“I felt really early that I wanted to make a difference in the world,” she told The Advocate in a 2020 Champions of Pride profile.

Jabari Brisport, New York State Senate.

Jabari Brisport, hailed as “the next AOC”, has become the first ever Black LGBT+ person elected to the New York state legislature.

A gay, Democratic socialist, public school teacher and third-generation Caribbean-American, Jabari Brisport has become the New York state senator representing Brooklyn’s 25th District.

Mayor Annise Parker, the president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said Brisport’s experiences as a Black queer person “will provide an essential perspective that has never been represented in the New York state legislature and will pave the way for a government that is more representative of the people it serves.

“Jabari shattered a rainbow ceiling in New York and his victory will encourage more people like him to step up and run.”

Charmaine McGuffey, Hamilton Country Sheriff.

Charmaine McGuffey made headlines when she announced that she was suing former Democratic sheriff Jim Neil, claiming he fired her from her position as major of the jail and court services because she is a woman and a lesbian.

She went on to run in the Democratic primary, putting her experiences with discrimination front and centre in her campaign. She won by a landslide and kicked Neil out of the race in the process.

She’s continued her victory streak by beating her Republican rival Bruce Hoffbauer, winning 52 per cent of the vote and becoming the first woman and first openly LGBT+ person to hold the position of Sheriff in Hamilton County.

Charmaine McGuffey
Charmaine McGuffey is the first female and out LGBT+ sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio, after the 2020 US election (Twitter/@CharmMcGuffey)

Mondaire Jones, New York’s 17th Congressional District.

Together with Ritchie Torres (see below), Mondaire Jones has become one of the first Black and Latino LGBT+ members of Congress.

Jones is a gay attorney who served in the US Department of Justice under Barack Obama. He recently worked for the Westchester County Law Department and also provided pro bono legal aid through The Legal Aid Society.

He’s claimed victory in New York’s 17th congressional district over Republican Maureen McArdle Schulman.

Ritchie Torres, New York’s 15th Congressional District.

Afro-Latino New York City councilman Ritchie Torres bested Republican candidate Orlando Molina in New York’s safely-Democratic 15th congressional district.

As the race was called, Torres said: “Tonight, a new era begins for the South Bronx.  It is the honour of a lifetime to represent a borough filled with essential workers who risked their lives so that New York City could live.

“My pledge to the district is simple: I will fight for you. The Bronx is my home, it is what made me who I am, and it is what I will fight for in Congress. I thank the voters of the South Bronx from the bottom of my heart for the trust they put in me to represent them.”

Brianna Titone, Colorado’s 27th House District.

Colorado transgender lawmaker Brianna Titone won re-election with an increased majority, despite Republicans launching vile transphobic ads in a bid to unseat her.

Republican state representative Stephen Humphrey even took the time to record a robocall that disparages and misgenders her, declaring she is “just too dangerous for Colorado families.” Despite his best efforts, she was re-elected with an increased majority of 2,280 over GOP opponent Vicki Pyne.

“The voters have spoken and selected me to continue to serve the people of House District 27. Thank you!” Titone said.

“It has been my honour to serve you the last 2 years and it is my honour again to serve for you the next two years. I will always do my best to represent the district to the best of my ability, to listen to views that differ from my own, and apply science and logic to the decisions that we face in governing the great state of Colorado.”

Sarah McBride, Delaware State Senate.

In another history-making victory for the US election, Human Rights Campaign activist and transgender rights champion Sarah McBride has become the first trans woman ever elected to a state senate.

She’s previously played a pivotal role in the fight for LGBT+ discrimination protections in Delaware, and has lobbied for the Equality Act to extend protections nationwide.

Annise Parker of LGBTQ Victory Fund celebrated McBride’s success in shattering the “lavender ceiling”, saying: “Sarah’s overwhelming victory is a powerful testament to the growing influence of transgender leaders in our politics and gives hope to countless trans people looking toward a brighter future.”

Sarah McBride
Sarah McBride, National Press Secretary for the HRC Foundation, speaks onstage at The Human Rights Campaign 2018 Los Angeles Gala Dinner. (Rich Fury/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign)

Torrey Harris, Tennessee House of Representatives.

Torrey Harris won his race to represent District 90 in Tennessee’s State House, where he will be the first out LGBT+ member of the state legislature. Before this he  worked in human resources and served as a board member for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Friends for Life HIV/AIDS Care & Prevention Services.

“Y’all, we won… ” Harris began in his victory speech. He teared up thanking his family, noting how he had overcome a modest upbringing.

In a later interview, he added: “I’m just shocked at the amount of people who were ready to see something different… They truly felt that I will make some type of difference and I’m just so thankful that our voters really truly feel that way.”

Stephanie Byers, Kansas House of Representatives.

Stephanie Byers, a transgender teacher and member of the Native American Chickasaw Nation, is one of the few transgender people of colour to be elected to office anywhere in the United States. She is the first transgender representative in the Kansas state legislature, helping to bolster further representation.

Annise Parker of LGBTQ Victory Fund said Byers’ win “will reverberate well beyond the borders of the state”.

“Her victory will inspire more trans people to run for office because they see it is possible and understand these candidates are transforming how America perceives them,” Parker said.

“While cynical politicians attempted to weaponise trans issues for political gain this cycle, Stephanie’s victory is a powerful reminder that most voters reject the politics of bigotry and will elect trans people who have a positive vision for their communities.”

More: Brianna Titone, Charmaine McGuffey, Jabari Brisport, Kim Jackson, Mauree Turner, Michele Rayner-Goolsby, Mondaire jones, non-binary, presidential election 2020, Rainbow wave, Ritchie Torres, sarah mcbride, shevrin jones, Stephanie Byers, Torrey Harris, Trans, us election

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