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Newly Elected Lawmaker Just Pulled Off a Bunch of Firsts

Mauree Turner is first openly nonbinary state lawmaker, first practicing Muslim in state House
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2020 10:45 AM CST

(Newser) – America's first openly nonbinary state lawmaker has been elected in the Bible Belt. Mauree Turner, a 27-year-old criminal justice advocate, won Oklahoma's 88th state House district on Tuesday, achieving her goal of making the state legislature more diverse. Not only does the Democrat—who uses the pronouns she/her or they/them—not identify as male or female, she is also queer, Black, and a hijab-wearing Muslim. That means Turner will also be the first practicing Muslim in the state legislature. "The win arguably stands out for the number of barriers it broke—and for where it all happened," reports the Washington Post, noting the state legislature blocked an imam from serving as chaplain in 2017. But though Oklahoma is a red state, Turner's district, including part of Oklahoma City, is solid blue. She defeated her Republican opponent with about 71% of the vote, per CNN.

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Turner is now the highest-ranking nonbinary elected official in the country, according to political action committee Victory Fund, which claims there are only four others in the entire country, all city councilors in New York and New Jersey. The PAC notes Turner might also be the first LGBTQ Muslim elected to a state legislature. Though Turner set out to diversify the state House, she initially tried to recruit other activists to run for the seat. "I'm Black, Muslim, femme, queer, born and raised in Oklahoma—politics was the last thing in my crosshairs," she told HuffPost last month. However, she eventually saw herself as the ideal underrepresented candidate. "The legislature hasn't always been a friendly or welcoming place to many folks, and this was about drawing space—not fighting for a seat at the table, but creating a new table altogether," she tells the Post. (Read more Election 2020 stories.)

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