A Pennsylvania candidate for magistrate won their election on Tuesday, becoming the first nonbinary person elected to a judicial position in the United States.
Xander Orenstein, who won their race for the Allegheny County Magisterial District Court with over 95% of the vote, had previously defeated an incumbent in the primary election earlier this year by just 40 votes.
Orenstein, a housing activist and scientist by training who describes themselves as “progressive,” campaigned on the importance of combating poverty and injustice, emphasizing the role that judges could play in stemming evictions and exacerbating homelessness. They also criticized their primary opponent for failing to pursue diversion programs for low-level offenders and advocated for bail reform.
LGBTQ Victory Fund, which advocates for increased LGBTQ representation in elected positions, celebrated Orenstein’s historic win. Currently, there are only nine out nonbinary elected officials in the nation, and prior to Orenstein, none had been elected to a judicial position.
“LGBTQ people — and especially trans and nonbinary people — often face discrimination in the court system, so Xander shattering this judicial barrier is a milestone moment for our community,” Annise Parker, the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement.
“A court system that is representative of all Americans is essential for fairness and equitable justice, with judges who have the lived experiences of those whose fates they decide,” added Parker. “Xander is now a trailblazer in our community’s efforts to diversify the bench with more non-binary people and we know Xander will inspire others to run and win.”
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