AUSTIN (KXAN) — The makeup of the Texas House of Representatives will become more diverse after a series of electoral victories during Tuesday’s election, resulting in the number of openly gay Black lawmakers to triple and sending the first two Muslim legislators to serve at the State Capitol.
State Rep. Jolanda Jones won reelection Tuesday to represent the Houston area in Texas House District 147, a seat she first won during a special election earlier this year. That initial victory made her the first openly LGBTQ Black lawmaker in the state’s history, and now Democrats Venton Jones and Christian “Manuel” Hayes will expand those ranks. Jones is set to represent Dallas in Texas House District 100, while Hayes will succeed his former boss Rep. Joe Deshotel in Texas House District 22.
All three candidates received the endorsement of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a political support organization led by former Houston Mayor Annise Parker. In an interview Wednesday with KXAN, she said their wins are coming at a time when more legislation affecting the LGBTQ community is expected to come up next year in Texas during the new legislative session.
“Recall over the last few sessions, the House of Representatives has been a bulwark against really some of the most egregious things that have come out of the State Senate,” Parker said. “Those are going to keep coming. There’s not going to be anything new, and our new legislators understand that. Their job is to speak out and to speak up and to make sure that people know what’s going on and shine a light and take the hard votes and lose those votes, unfortunately, because the state of Texas saw fit to send folks who are frankly embarrassing back into leadership.”
Some Republican lawmakers, whose party will remain in control of both chambers of the Texas legislature, have signaled support for proposals that include restricting who can attend drag performances and possibly preventing certain books with LGBTQ themes from being available in schools.
Additionally, voters elected two Democratic candidates who will become the first Muslim lawmakers in Texas history. Dr. Suleman Lalani won the seat to represent Texas House District 76 in Fort Bend County, while Salman Bhojani advanced from his election to represent Texas House District 92 in Tarrant County.