Democrats celebrate multi-religious Washington State legislature

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From left, Washington State Rep. Vandana Slatter with WA State Senators Manka Dhingra, Mona Das and Yasmin Trudeau, pose together to showcase the historic multi-religious South-Asian Women of Color contingent serving in Washington State legislature Photo dated Jan 13, 2022. Photo : courtesy senatedemocrats.wa.gov

Democrats in Washington State legislature celebrated the fact that lawmakers of different faiths, including Hindu and Muslim, and Sikh, were sworn in to serve together in the state Senate, for the first time in history, two of Indian origin and one hailing from Bangladesh.

Describing it as “An American First” that “Muslim, Hindu, Sikh legislators serve together in WA Senate,” Democrats of the western state noted that the Jan. 10, 2022, swearing in of Sen. Yasmin Trudeau (D-Tacoma), Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) and Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent), “marked the first time in American history that Muslim, Sikh and Hindu lawmakers have served together in any state or federal legislative body.”

Tuesday, Jan. 11, saw Dhingra and Trudeau presiding over the Senate Law & Justice Committee as chair and vice chair, the first time two South Asian women have served in such roles together in Washington state history, the press release noted.

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“When I joined the Senate in 2017, I doubled the size of the Women of Color Caucus, from one to two,” Dhingra, who was the first Indian-American of the Sikh faith ever to be elected to a state legislature, the WA Senate Democrats said.

“Then, in 2018, we doubled it again, from two to four. Now we have one of the most diverse legislatures in the country. This is what it means for our government to look like the people it represents,” Dhingra added.

“We are proving every day to the world that America celebrates the diversity of our communities,” said Das, the first from the Indian state of Bihar to be elected to legislative office in the U.S. “Women of color are leading the way by lifting up the voices of constituents who haven’t been represented before in the halls of power,” Das contended.

Das’s 2018 election to the Senate led to the first time that three Indian-American women served together in a state legislature in the U.S. Upon election, she joined Dhingra and Rep. Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue), who had been appointed to the Washington State House of Representatives in 2017 and was the first-ever Indian-American legislator in that body.

“I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in bringing a new and diverse perspective to the Legislature,” said Slatter. “Each generation has the opportunity to forge a path and to be an inspiration for the next.”

“Every day, we take seriously the responsibility of using our lived and professional experience to amplify the stories, ideas and concerns of the most marginalized,” said Trudeau, the first Muslim and first immigrant from Bangladesh to serve in the Washington state Legislature. “We know that we are not only representing the people of our district; we are representing everyone who has been on the outside looking in.”

“None of us is defined solely by our religion or our background or our community,” said Dhingra. “But all of us are shaped by them. And now those communities are shaping our civic culture for the better.”

The legislators are joined by new Senate Counsel Suchi Sharma, who this year became the first Indian-American to serve in that role in Washington state history.

The 60-day legislative session began on Jan. 10.

 

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