News (USA)

Nonbinary lawmaker censured by GOP for helping trans rights protester. They’re not sorry.

Mauree Turner
Photo: Oklahoma House of Representatives

Oklahoma state House Republicans voted to censure Rep. Mauree Turner (D), Oklahoma’s first out nonbinary and Muslim lawmaker, and threatened to remove Turner from their House committee seats after Turner’s office refused to hand a trans rights protestor who had hidden in their office overto state troopers after an alleged skirmish with troopers at the state capitol.

On Tuesday, House Republicans voted along party lines to censure Turner for “allegedly impeding a law enforcement investigation,” Tulsa World reported.

The censure occurred in response to an incident last week involving a protestor demonstrating against a state bill to ban gender-affirming care for trans people of any age. The bill, which is currently being considered in the state Senate, bars any state funds or private insurers from financing gender-affirming care. The bill’s supporting legislators referred to trans people as “mentally ill or psychologically damaged,” according to the aforementioned publication.

During demonstrations in the capitol halls, an unnamed protestor splashed water on two anti-trans legislators and got into a “scuffle” with Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers. The protestor then left the scene and visited Turner’s office.

Troopers went to Turner’s office and found the door locked. Troopers weren’t able to enter the office until House leadership assisted. Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Foster said that, by locking the door, Turner blocked officers from questioning the suspect, violating state law.

In a statement, state House Speaker Charles McCall (R) said that Turner “harbored a fugitive” and lied to law enforcement. However, state Rep. Jason Lowe (D) said that, because the protestor hadn’t been charged with a crime, they weren’t a fugitive.

Republicans said they’d remove Turner from House committee assignments until Turner sends an apology to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the House speaker. Turner says no such apology will be sent.

“I think an apology for loving the people in Oklahoma is something that I cannot do,” Turner said.

“What happened last week in my office was the same thing that happens all the time,” they added. “People do not feel represented or protected by the people within this body. They come to find refuge in my office. They come to decompress from some of the most stressful times.”

State Rep. Monroe Nichols (D) also noted that Turner’s censure and possible removal from committee seats are worse than consequences given to other legislators after being indicted or caught driving while intoxicated.

Turner told Republicans that they were singled out for punishment because, “I’m representing a culmination of things that you deeply hate.” Turner and Democrats also accused Republicans of trying to disenfranchise and silence the voices of constituents living in Turner’s district.

The protester was arrested Monday and faces a felony charge of assault and battery on a police officer. 

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