Texas Elects Gay Senator, Swimming Against Anti-LGBTQ Tide in America

What qualities are commonly associated with leadership? Terms like “independent”, “forward thinking”, and “responsible” often come to mind. But an even better question to ask is: What does a leader look like?

A Slow Drip of Change

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For many, the image of the individual that comes to mind is most likely a man. And while there is still a disproportionate number of male to female representatives in politics, that is slowly starting to change across the country.

A New Star

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One place where this change is being seen is in the state of Texas. Even though there are notable Democratic hubs across the second-largest state, overall, the location is known for being overwhelming Republican.

Something’s Cooking

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This all comes from one key rising politician: Molly Cook. Cook recently made Texas history by becoming the first openly queer senator. Her victory came after winning a special election against fellow Democrat Rep. Jarvis Johnson.

When Opportunity Strikes

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The opportunity election was set in place in order to fill Sen. John Whitmire’s  vacant seat after becoming the most recent mayor of Houston back in the November election. While Cook will take over for Whitmire’s position, it will only be for the rest of his current term.

Round Two

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This is not the last time we will see the two Democrats face off. However, Johnson and Cook will run in the primary election on May 28 to become the Democratic candidate for the legislative sessions in 2025-26. This is significant as it is possible Texas will not break in 2024.

Bringing Up Dark Tidings

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Many are overjoyed as Cook brings a lot to the table that her opponent seems to be lacking.  She critiqued Johnson during his campaign, calling out his suspicious ties to “dark money” associated with the passing of Republican bills.

Too Young and Too Bold?

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In response to Cook’s allegations, Johnson stated that the comments were “mind-boggling and baffling,”. Johnson fired back at Cook, exclaiming that she was too green in the political scene to appropriately handle the role.

A Different Kind of Climate Change

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Cook and her supporters managed to squeak out the win over Johnson. Cook’s 14-point margin inspired him to analyze the nature of his loss. Johnson expressed that due to low voter turnout, the results are not truly representative of the political climate.

Caught in the Crossfires

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Cook seems eager to get to work, especially in regards to supporting the queer community. She expresses concerns for her trans neighbors and state members, saying that genderqueer people are “in the cross hairs of hateful policymaking”.

Time to Act

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This is a powerful sentiment to make, especially in an era where trans rights are hotly debated. With risks of violence against genderqueer people on the rise, allies and activists alike are hoping that Cook will put her enthusiasm into developing strong protective policies.

Fighting the Good Fight

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While no concrete legislation has been produced by Texas’ history-making senator, she has proven herself effective with LGBTQ+ bills. During Abbott’s policies aimed to restrict gender-affirming care, Cook stood in staunch opposition.

Backed by Love

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Cook ran with the queer community in full support of her obtaining the vacant spot. In fact, her run against Johnson was sponsored by The LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. The organization released a statement after her victory, labeling it as a social breakthrough for the queer people of Texas. 

Punch Back

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Annise Parker, the Victory Fund president and previous mayor of Houston, noted that “For too long, the LGBTQ+ community has been the punching bag of bigots in the Texas Senate,” 

Timing Is the Key

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Parker went on to say “Now, they’ll have an out LGBTQ+ peer as their colleague who will look them in the eye and make them see the Texans they’re hurting.” It seems that for many Democrats, Cook’s seating comes at a pivotal time.

An International Crisis

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States across the US have been ramping up their amount of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in recent years. For individuals like Cook and Parker, it is important to see this diminish, especially with Texas being one of the most robust in developing queer-hostile legislation.

Others Involved

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And it’s not just politicians who are riled up by the political attacks against the queer population. Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of GLAAD commented, “The governor and other leaders are failing in their basic responsibilities to keep all Texans safe and free,”.

Petitioning the Prejudice

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Ellis expressed these denials of human rights in a joint statement supporting a petition against several Texas bills. “Discrimination against LGBTQ Texans, especially in the transgender community, is of international concern.”

The post Texas Elects Queer Senator, Swimming Against Anti-LGBTQ Tide in America first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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