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Fabian Nelson Will Be Mississippi’s First Openly Gay Lawmaker After Runoff Victory

a photo of Fabian Nelson, arms crossed, standing in front of the Mississippi Capitol
Fabian Nelson was set to become Mississippi’s first openly gay lawmaker in January 2023 after winning a Democratic primary runoff for House District 66 on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023. Photo courtesy Fabian Nelson campaign

An openly gay lawmaker will join the ranks of the Mississippi Legislature for the first time in history next January after Fabian Nelson won a Democratic primary runoff for House District 66 in southwest Jackson on Tuesday night. His victory leaves Louisiana as the only state with no openly LGBTQ+ lawmakers.

“When people go out and vote, this is what happens. We get the change that we need. And so it’s so important that we continue to do that,” he said in a Facebook Live conversation with supporters this morning.

Nelson, who owns Mississippi United Realty, defeated runoff opponent Roshunda Harris-Allen 69%-31% and will be the lone candidate on the November general election ballot; no Republicans, third-party candidates or independents chose to run for the seat. Rep. De’Keither Stamps currently holds the seat in Hinds County but did not run for re-election, opting to launch a bid for the Mississippi Public Service Commission’s central district seat instead.

‘Representation Matters—Especially In Mississippi’

During the campaign, Fabian Nelson accepted the endorsement of the Washington, D.C.-based LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. Its president, Annise Parker, celebrated his victory in a statement Tuesday night. In 2010, Houston elected her as its mayor—becoming the largest city at the time to elect an openly gay mayor.

“Representation matters—especially in Mississippi, which is one of the last two states to achieve the milestone of electing an out LGBTQ+ lawmaker,” Parker said. “Voters in Mississippi should be proud of the history they’ve made but also proud to know they’ll be well-represented by Fabian. Fabian’s victory is a testament to his dedication to his community and the thoughtful, diligent work he put into winning this campaign. LGBTQ+ Victory Fund proudly went all-in for Fabian—and for effective leadership in Mississippi—providing training, consulting and on-the-ground support. We look forward to seeing him take his seat in the legislature and champion a better Mississippi for all.”

a photo of Fabian Nelson in a gray house robe sitting in front of a window holding a mug that says "LOVE" in rainbow colors
“Representation matters—especially in Mississippi, which is one of the last two states to achieve the milestone of electing an out LGBTQ+ lawmaker,” LGBTQ+ Victory Fund President Annise Parker said in a statement on Fabian Nelson’s victory in the Aug. 29, 2023, Mississippi House District 66 runoff. Photo courtesy Fabian Nelson campaign

Nelson, who comes from a family of health care professionals, says on his website that one of his top issues is making health care more affordable and expanding Medicaid—a policy opposed by top Republican leaders like Gov. Tate Reeves but which experts say would bring in over $1 billion annually to provide coverage to between 100,000 and 300,000 working Mississippians.

The nominee’s website also says that, as a foster parent with children at four public schools, he would work to “fully fund” public education, adding that doing so “will improve workforce development which in turn will decrease brain drain in the Magnolia State.” The other top issue listed on his site is workforce development. “As a small business owner, Fabian understands how vital small businesses are for economic development for our community,” Nelson’s issues section says. “Fabian also understands the struggles that our small businesses face on a daily basis. Fabian will ensure that legislation is created to make Mississippi a business-friendly state.” The website does not provide additional details on those policy proposals.

In a Facebook Live conversation with supporters Wednesday morning, Nelson said he plans to get to work immediately to prepare for starting his job as the House District 66 representative next year.

“I’m not waiting until January to start working,” he said. “I’m starting working next week because I have to understand what my community needs so that when I make it to the Capitol in January I am ready to go in and fight for legislation within my district because that’s so important.”

Lawmaker Behind Trans Care Ban Trails Opponent

Fabian Nelson’s election comes at a time when the Mississippi Legislature, like other Republican-dominated state houses, has introduced dozens of bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed and Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors; that came on the heels of a 2021 law that banned LGBTQ+ children from participating on school sports teams that match their gender identity.

Even as Nelson made history Tuesday night, the Republican lawmaker who introduced Mississippi’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors appeared in danger of losing his seat. In House District 2, Rep. Nick Bain was trailing challenger Brad Mattox by 23 votes as of Wednesday morning with only affidavit votes left to count.

Mississippi House Rep. Nick Bain, R-Corinth on the Mississippi House floor
Mississippi House Rep. Nick Bain, R-Corinth, introduced the Regulate Experimental Adolescent Procedures Act on the Mississippi House floor on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, which banned gender-affirming care for minors. Photo by Kayode Crown

The Alcorn County Circuit Clerk’s office told the Mississippi Free Press this morning that voters cast 44 affidavit votes in the House District 2 runoff; those ballots are currently being counted.

Bain, the current House Judiciary B chairman, introduced The REAP Act on the House floor in January, banning gender-affirming care for minors including puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy. The law also banned gender-affirming surgeries, even though none were performed in Mississippi to begin with.

Voters Select Nominees In Four Other Districts

In House District 69, Democratic primary runoff voters chose Tamarra Butler-Washington to replace retiring Rep. Alyce Clarke, who became the first Black woman elected to the Mississippi Legislature in 1985; Butler-Washington has no general election opponent.

In House District 72, Democratic primary runoff voters selected Justis Gibbs over Rukia Lumumba. His mother, Debra Gibbs, previously held the seat. Justis Gibbs has no general election opponent.

In House District 105, Republican primary runoff voters selected Elliot Burch over incumbent Rep. Dale Goodin. Burch will face Democrat Matthew Daves in the general election.

In House District 115, Republican runoff voters selected Zachary Grady over Felix Gines; the nominee has no general election opponent.

The general election for all statewide, regional and legislative offices is on Nov. 7, 2023. Voters must register in person by Oct. 9, 2023, or have mailed voter registration applications postmarked by Oct. 10, 2023, to be eligible to cast a ballot on Election Day. More information on voting is available at

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