Ga. Equality backs Jason Carter

Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, picked up Georgia Equality’s endorsement for the open state Senate District 42 seat.

A special election is set for May 11. The state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization announced the decision in an April 13 press release.

“I’m really excited and honored by the endorsement. LGBT issues are important to this district and important to me,” Carter told the Georgia Voice.

“The most important thing for the LGBT community, and everyone else, is to seek out new coalitions for building broad support,” he added.

“There are issues that Georgia Equality deals with, such as HIV/AIDS, that are ripe for new coalitions, where new partnerships can be formed that maybe weren’t there in the past and where there have not been good advocates. We can grow the support for other issues … in the LGBT community in particular.”

David Adelman served as the state senator for District 42, which encompasses parts of DeKalb County including Decatur and Atlanta, until he was recently appointed U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

Other candidates qualifying to run for the seat are Libertarian David Montane, Independent Steve Patrick and Democrat Tom Stubbs.

Carter is an attorney at Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore. In 2006, he co-founded Democrats Work, a national volunteer organization for Georgia residents wanting to work on community service projects. He also founded Red Clay Democrats in 2002 for young professionals.

The only candidates seeking Georgia Equality’s endorsement were Stubbs and Carter, said GE Executive Director Jeff Graham.

“Because of the short time period before the election, we knew we wanted to make a quick decision,” he said. The decision was made after the candidates filled out questionnaires and were interviewed by Georgia Equality leaders.

Graham said Carter was selected because he not only actively sought support from the LGBT community, but also is conducting serious outreach programs to the LGBT community in his campaign.

“He has built a strong base of support with a number of individuals and organizations … and has a good understanding of our issues,” Graham said.

“We believe he can build effective bipartisan coalitions” to support LGBT issues in the legislature, Graham added.

On April 15, a fundraiser is scheduled for Carter at the home of Jimmy Paulk. It is hosted by several of Atlanta’s gay leaders, including Ken Britt, Lawrie Demorest, Georgia Log Cabin Republican President Jamie Ensley, Glen Paul Freedman, Human Rights Campaign Religion & Faith Program Director and former Atlanta resident Harry Knox, Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan and Kyle Williams. Carter is also holding an LGBT mixer at Radial Cafe on April 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Stubbs is an attorney in private practice in Decatur and a longtime resident and community volunteer in the district. He told Georgia Voice he was disappointed Carter received the Georgia Equality endorsement, but that if he won he would be “right back at Jeff’s door asking what can I carry for you.”

“The dynamics of the Carter name will not have as much of an impact as people think. He’s a nice guy,” Stubbs said. “Anointing someone doesn’t do a damn thing for people, Carter or no Carter.”

Stubbs ran an unsuccessful campaign for Dekalb County Superior Court Judge in 2008 and also ran for Decatur City Commission in 1999, when he lost to Kecia Cunningham. Cunningham, who was the first openly gay African-American elected official in Georgia, still holds that seat and has endorsed Carter.

Stubbs added he has a long history of supporting LGBT equality, including being a member of the Atlanta Stonewall Democrats and Lambda Legal.

Stubbs said he also lobbied the state legislature in 2004 opposing the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. As president of the DeKalb Bar Association, in 2005 he published a column in which he compared “the bigotry perpetuated in our laws against same-sex couples” to the laws reviewed in U.S. Supreme Court rulings, Dred v. Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson.

“I just have great neighbors who happen to be gay. It’s not a hard call to support equality,” he said. “I’ve been doing that for years.”