Leading With Pride
During the 2020 election year, many offices were up for election including state legislators, senators, and most notably the president. Through the state government races, the LGBTQ+ community celebrated a small victory after multiple members, some of which were people of color, were elected to represent the states of New York, Delaware, and Oklahoma. These individuals have paved a trail of inspiration, equality and hope.
US Representative-elect Ritchie Torres
Torres is a representative for the 15th council district in the Central Bronx. After being elected in the Democratic primary in New York’s Congressional District and beating political rival Rubén Díaz Sr., Torres will be the first gay Afro-Latino man to serve in congress. Torres was also the first LGBTQ+ person to represent the Bronx in the New York City Council.
“I hope I can represent the possibility that a poor kid, a kid of color, a LGBTQ kid from a place like the Bronx, can overcome the odds and become a member of the United States Congress,” Torres said in an interview with CNN.
Torres will be replacing Representative José Serrano, who decided against running for reelection after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In an interview with CNN, Torres said he would prioritize working on the affordable housing crisis as well as looking to reduce child poverty.
Delaware State Senator-elect Sarah McBride
After being elected, McBride, a Democratic activist from Delaware, will become the nation’s first transgender state senator. McBride is the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. She was also the first transgender person to speak on stage at a major party convention after addressing the crowd at the 2016 Democratic National Comittee convention.
After joining the Board of Directors of Equality Delaware in 2013, she became an advocate for Delaware’s gender identity non-discrimination act, which was signed into law that year. McBride’s candidacy focuses on expanding access to health care and paid leave, increasing minimum wage, and reforming the criminal justice system.
“I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too,” McBride tweeted on November third after she won.
Mauree Turner, Member-elect of the Oklahoma House of Representatives
After winning the race for the Oklahoma state House for District 88 on Election Day, Turner has made history as America’s first non-binary (a gender identity where one does not identify as female or male) state legislator, as well as Oklahoma’s first Muslim lawmaker. Turner is a community organizer who has worked with organizations such as the NAACP of Oklahoma, Freedom Oklahoma, and CAIR OK. They are an advocate for issues such as immigration rights, racial justice, and criminal justice.
Turner was a board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the leader of a criminal justice reform named “Campaigning for Smart Justice,” which was initiated by the American Civil Liberties Union. As a queer, black Muslim, Turner says that they have experienced not being represented by lawmakers. According to Turner’s website, their campaign strives to drive conversations on what inclusive representation looks like.
“It has never been a more important time for the next generation to see themselves in our government,” Turner said in a statement in February when announcing their campaign.
The election of these members of the LGBTQ+ community has inspired many people, from queer individuals to people of color, and can show them that they shouldn’t let things like the color of their skin or sexual orientation hold them back from chasing their dreams. The representation of LGBTQ+ people in the government is a positive change and a step toward equality.