‘As a Black queer masculine-presenting woman, this is history’: Meet Kentucky’s newest lawmaker

Keturah Herron is Kentucky's first openly LGBT+ person elected to the state house

Kentucky has elected the first-ever openly LGBT+ members to its house of representatives – Keturah Herron.

At a special election on 22 February, Herron – who is Black, queer and genderqueer – was elected to the District 42 seat in a landslide vote, beating her Republican opponent, Judy Martin Stallard, by 1,959 votes to 119.

Speaking to local TV station WDRB shortly after her victory, Herron said: “Being a Black queer masculine-presenting woman, this is history. This matters.

“This matters for all of those folks who across, not just here in Louisville but across the commonwealth, to know that you are able to do that and you have someone that is going to be able to represent you, not just speak on issues, but someone who knows and understands and who’s walked that and so I just look forward to inspiring other folks and open up the doors for other people to be in this space.”

Keturah Herron is a Black activist and previously worked as a policy strategist for the ACLU brach in Kentucky. She played a pivotal role in the successful campaign to ban no-knock search warrants in Louisville after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman, was murdered by police while she slept in her own bed in March 2020.

The House 42 District seat was open because former representative Reginald Meeks, a longtime Democrat state representative, retired in December, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

Herron is also the third Black woman to serve in Kentucky’s general assembly, according to the state’s Democratic party.

Kentucky has had an LGBT+ state senator before – Ernesto Scorsone, who came out as gay in a speech in 2003. He was not out when he was elected, and he left the legislature in 2008 to be a judge. Since then, there have been no openly LGBT+ members in either chamber.

Herron was endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to elect out candidates around the nation.

“This is a momentous night for Kentucky, especially for LGBTQ people and Black people who have lived without equitable representation in the state legislature for far too long,” said Annise Parker, Victory Fund president, in a press release.

“Keturah Herron is a seasoned community organiser and policy expert. She has the experience – and political stamina – to advocate for all Kentuckians and stand up against the deluge of anti-LGBTQ legislation perpetrated by anti-equality lawmakers. Her election is a strong rebuke to this hate.”

Kentucky, alongside dozens of other US states, has seen a swathe of anti-trans bills introduced that would roll back the rights of trans and non-binary youth in the state.