Pam Miller comes to Atlanta today for a meet-and-greet with supporters at the Phillip Rush Center and says she is happy to see the excitement Atlanta voters are showing for her Savannah race.
“I’m thrilled the LGBT community realizes the importance of the race in Savannah,” she said. “I think it shows how important it is to have openly gay elected officials all over the state.”
Statewide LGBT political group Georgia Equality hosts a reception today for Miller, who is endorsed by GE and the Victory Fund. If successful in November’s election, Miller would be the city’s first openly gay elected official. The event is from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Phillip Rush Center, 1530 DeKalb Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307.
Miller is running for the District 4 seat on the Savannah City Council and will face incumbent Mary Ellen Sprague on the ballot. She is one of at least five openly gay candidates who will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot for local government seats in Georgia.
The best estimate of openly gay officials in Georgia is 12. That’s a small number considering there are an estimated 300,000 LGBT people living in the state, Miller said.
“There are so few to represent all of us,” she said. “I’m looking forward to bringing that voice to Savannah.”
Miller said so far, her sexual orientation has been a non-issue as she seeks a seat on the Savannah City Council. And while there may be others in city government who are gay, their decision not to be open about it is their business, she said.
“I’m authentic about myself. I’ve been told campaigning as openly gay may cost me votes. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,” she said. “I believe I will be elected and I want to walk through the door from day one transparent. If I’m open and honest now, people know I will be that way when I’m at the table. And I do want other LGBT folks to know they can run for office — it’s 2011.”
Miller said she is not running on a “gay platform” but rather one of making needed changes to city government. But as an openly gay official, Miller said she could help make certain items priorities — such as seeking city funding for Stand Out Youth, Savannah’s program that serves LGBT young people. She also said there may be ways to find funding for Savannah’s annual gay Pride event.
Miller is also married. She and her partner of 15 years, Ginger Miller — traveled to Provincetown, Mass., four months ago to get legally married.
“It was the icing on the cake,” she said of her marriage, which just happened to occur during single women’s week in the renowned gay-friendly city of Provincetown that typically attracts approximately 5,000 single lesbians.
“There were all these lesbians looking for love,” she said, laughing. “And here we were at this garden inn getting married. We made new friends and invited the women staying in the same inn to be part of the ceremony.
And while same-sex marriage is not legal in Georgia, Miller said it was important for her and her wife to get married because they believe their marriage will one day be recognized at the federal level.
“And we want to have the legal protections marriage provides,” she said.
Miller said she is currently seeking to build a war chest of between $45,000-$60,000 and has raised about three-fourths of that amount.
“We are doing well financially. My door-to-door campaign is being well received. We’re out every day. I know Savannah residents are ready for change and for someone who to be honest and open. I feel I am in a good position,” she said.
Miller said endorsements by Georgia Equality and the Victory Fund were key to her campaign.
“It was essential to my race to have that endorsement. I think it shows I’ve been vetted by substantial organizations, and that I am a viable, winnable candidate,” she said. “It’s a privilege to be endorsed by these organizations.”
“It’s also important because I’m a firm believer in the work they do as well,” she added.
It’s “great to be gay” in today’s political landscape, Miller said, and she is looking forward to the day after the election on Nov. 8.
“I’ve been receiving wonderful support and hoping on Nov. 9 I wake up as the first openly gay elected official in Savannah,” she said.