The 2018 midterm elections marked a huge increase in diversity in the U.S. House of Representatives. This year especially saw several historic wins for women, including the election of the first two Muslim congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. And as a Representative-elect, Omar is already making her mark by working to end a congressional ban on religious headwear.
Congress officially banned wearing hats on the House floor back in 1837—when only white, Christian men were serving in Congress. The rule states that “every member shall remain uncovered during the sessions of the House,” and it could bar members of Congress from wearing religious garb that covers their heads.
As Time reports, Omar wears a headscarf for religious reasons, and Democrats are working to clarify the hat ban to allow religious headwear like hijabs and kippahs. The proposed rule, which Omar co-authored alongside House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representative Jim McGovern, would take effect in January if passed.
In a November 19th Instagram post, Omar shared a picture of the Time article about the newly proposed rule, and added a powerful message about religious freedom.
Time notes that Democrats are also proposing banning LGBTQ discrimination in the House as part of an effort to “restore inclusion and diversity” to this chamber of Congress.
Omar was born in Somalia and arrived in the U.S. as a 12-year-old. She made history in 2016 when she was elected Minnesota State Representative, becoming the first-ever Somali-American lawmaker. Freedom of religion is one of the most important tenets of the U.S. Constitution, and we couldn’t be more excited that Omar is taking concrete steps to protect it on behalf of herself and others.