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Rep.-elect Sharice Davids, a gay Native American, is ready to 'shape the future' of America

“We are all part of this important moment in history," says the first LGBTQ Kansan and one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress.

Rep.-elect Sharice Davids emerged as one of the most prominent faces of this year’s “rainbow wave,” which produced a record number of LGBTQ candidates for elected office. Davids, a Democrat from Kansas, was one of an estimated 160 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer candidates to win, making her the first openly LGBTQ Kansan elected to Congress and one of the first two Native American women elected.

“We are all part of this important moment in history, a moment that isn’t about fear but about hope,” Davids said this month at the Victory Institute’s annual International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington. “It’s true we faced unprecedented challenges, but America — people from states like Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, of course Kansas, and all across our country — just elected the most diverse class to Congress in history.”

The newly elected House includes four openly LGBTQ members, more than 100 women and its first two Muslim women and first two Native American women.

“We stood up and said that our country isn’t the fear and the hate and the rhetoric that some of our currently leaders would have you believe,” Davids said at the conference to a room of LGBTQ elected officials and community leaders. “We stood up and said that we welcome everyone, and that everyone deserves a shot to succeed.”

Davids concluded by saying, “I know that together we can and will help shape the future of this country for the better.”

Image: Democratic House candidate from Kansas Sharice Davids wins her House seat
Democratic House candidate from Kansas Sharice Davids and her mom Crystal celebrate after Davids won her race at her election night watch party at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Olathe, Kansas on Nov. 6, 2018.Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

When asked afterward how her diverse background will help her shape the country’s future, Davids told NBC News she understands that everyone — regardless of their life experience — deserves to be heard and included in the political process.

“Having such a diverse group of people coming into Congress is going to make a difference, because no matter if your experience is very similar to mine or completely different than mine, it’s just as real and it’s just as valid,” Davids explained. “Your voice deserves to be heard just as much as mine and just as much as the people who have been in decision-making positions for so long.”

During her campaign, Davids — who will be the only Democrat in the Kansas delegation when she takes office next month — called for treating gun violence as a public health crisis; supported expanding Medicaid's health coverage for more Americans; and was critical of tax cuts championed by President Donald Trump.