First openly gay lawmaker elected in Mississippi

Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 6:33 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - When lawmakers return to the State Capitol in January, one of the new faces will be making history as the first openly gay lawmaker in Mississippi. Fabian Nelson won the Democratic runoff for the House District 66 seat in Hinds County.

”People were well, you know, you don’t need to talk about it,” said Nelson. “I said, no, that’s not fair for me not to talk about it. I have to let people know upfront where I stand on the issues.”

Fabian Nelson being an openly gay man wasn’t part of his campaign platform. But as he reflects on the history he’s making, he knows it’s significant.

“I think it’s vital that we have people that represent every single person in that building,” described Nelson. “Because until you walk in those shoes, you cannot properly advocate until you walk in those shoes, you cannot understand the severity and totality of the issues. So being a voice and being able to be a voice of reason, and saying, Hey, come to me, let’s talk about it. And you can change people’s perspectives when you have those conversations.”

And there are many in the LGBTQ+ community celebrating the win with him, including Jason McCarty. McCarty was the first openly gay individual to run for the Mississippi House in 2019.

“I think going forward when someone wants to write a bill or a law to pass against our marginalized community, they have to look at Fabian in the face,” explained McCarty. “You know, they have to look at him in the face and still proceed. And so hopefully having him in that building, hopefully having him in those chambers, at the discussion table, they might not be so emboldened anymore.”

The Human Rights Campaign is often in the hallways and on the steps of the Capitol. And having Nelson’s voice is something they believe will make an impact.

“It means a lot to have somebody there in the chamber,” said HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill. “When they’re trying to attack the LGBTQ+ folks, they don’t have to think about as a group outside that chamber. Somebody is right there.”

Nelson doesn’t have any general election challengers. So, he will be sworn in at the beginning of January.

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