Oklahoma saw a first for LGBTQ+ people when Mauree Turner won their race for Oklahoma’s House of Representatives for District 88, making them the first openly nonbinary person elected to a state legislature. Turner is also the first Muslim legislator in the Sooner State.
The 27-year-old Democrat beat their Republican opponent, Kelly Barlean, with 71 percent of the vote, according to TV station KOCO. Turner had bested incumbent Jason Dunnington in the Democratic primary in June in the district, which covers part of Oklahoma City.
“We ran a campaign based on a lot of things and deep community power is one of those, and visibility,” Turner said after their win. “We ran a campaign based off of the idea that we don’t always need to have allies advocate for us but we can advocate for ourselves. That was a message a lot of people could get behind. Not just a message, but also an action.”
“A lot of people don’t know how much you risk putting your name on the ballot if you are not a white cis het man, and it was a lot of work to get here. I had to put faith in my community to catch me when I jumped, and they did,” they continued.
Turner commented on being a “vessel” for visibility and representation for the queer and Muslim communities and the intersections of both.
“I think about the adults who messaged me who no longer live in Oklahoma. I think about Muslim queer youth, especially, who lived in Oklahoma who no longer live here who have reached out and feel a little bit more empowered to use their voice,” Turner said, adding that many of those folks “felt like they had to go to the coast or something to be seen and heard.”
“That’s understandable,” they said.
Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker lauded Turner’s win.
“Of all the states to achieve a milestone political moment for non-binary people, few would have thought it would be Oklahoma, where there are so few LGBTQ elected officials. But Mauree ran a tireless campaign focused on the issues that matter to their district while also being authentic and open about who they are,” Parker said in a statement. “Mauree is now a trailblazer for non-binary people and their courage to run openly will inspire more non-binary people to pursue careers in elected office.”