Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Election news (December 2020)

Vol. 37 No. 10 December 2020

Five states elect first Muslim lawmakers

Five states (Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Oklahoma and Wisconsin) elected their first Muslim lawmakers to their state legislatures. All five candidates ran as Democrats.

More than 100 Muslim candidates ran for elected office this year, including U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. The Democratic representatives, who are the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, were re-elected to their second terms.

The firsts for those five states are:

• Iman Jodeh to Colorado House of Representatives.

• Madinah Wilson-Anton to the Delaware House of Representatives.

• Christopher Benjamin to Florida’s House of Representatives.

• Mauree Turner to Oklahoma’s Legislature.

• Samba Baldeh to Wisconsin state Assembly.

Other Muslims elected include:

• Zohran Kwame Mamdani to the New York state Assembly.

• Charles Fall, who since 2019 served as the only Muslim member of the New York state Assembly, was re-elected.

• Abraham Aiyash to Michigan’s House of Representatives.

• Omar Fateh to Minnesota state Senate. 

Sex ed referendum passes in Washington

Washington school districts will be required to teach sexual health education to most students under a referendum approved Nov. 3.

Nearly 60 percent favored Referendum 90, a measure that marks the first time nationwide that a sex education mandate has appeared on a statewide ballot.

By approving the measure, voters signaled that a 2020 law should go into effect making lessons mandatory starting in kindergarten, though families could choose to opt out.

Mississippi approves new ‘IGWT’ flag design

Mississippi on Nov. 3 voted in a new design for its state flag, which now includes the phrase “In God We Trust” below a magnolia blossom.

Mississippi’s flag previously was the last one in the country to feature an image of the Confederate battle flag. The new design was selected by a state commission in September. The state Legislature will now have to enact into law the new design as Mississippi’s official state flag during its next regular session in 2021.

Nevada recognizes gay marriage in constitution

Nevada voters overturned a 2002 ban on same-sex marriage, making the state the first to recognize gay couples’ right to marry in its constitution.

Question 2 on Nevada ballots asked voters whether they support an amendment recognizing marriage “as between couples regardless of gender,” with 62 percent voting in favor of the question. It also included the caveat that religious organizations and clergypersons would have the right to refuse to solemnize a marriage.

Louisiana amends state constitution on abortion

Louisiana voters decided to amend the state’s constitution by adding language that states the document offers no protections for a right to abortion or the funding of abortion.

The question before voters on Nov. 3 was whether to explicitly state that “a right to abortion and the funding of abortion shall not be found in the Louisiana Constitution.”

The vote will have no immediate effect, although if the Supreme Court were to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights, the amendment would ensure against any court ruling that language in the Louisiana Constitution grants abortion rights.

Pew: 28% of registered voters are secular

The share of voters who identify as religiously unaffiliated has nearly doubled since 2008, from 15 percent to 28 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

Christians account for the majority of registered voters in the United States (64 percent), but that is down from 79 percent in 2008.

Around eight-in-ten Republican registered voters (79 percent) are Christians, compared with about half (52 percent) of Democratic voters.

Democratic voters are much more likely than GOP voters to identify as religiously unaffiliated (38 percent vs. 15 percent).