During his previous tenure, Barnes became the first sitting Georgia governor to address a gay rights group when he spoke to the Atlanta Executive Network in July 2000. Barnes did not back specific gay-related legislation but expressed strong support for principles of non-discrimination, including sexual orientation.
On the Republican side, former Secretary of State Karen Handel placed first in the primary but did not top 50 percent, putting her in an Aug. 10 runoff with second place finisher former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal.
The Republican contest stooped into gay-baiting, with Deal, former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and other candidates attacking Handel for her support of domestic partner benefits and membership in the pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans during her earlier campaigns for Fulton County Commission. Handel struck back by going so far as to say she would consider a law to ban gay adoptions in Georgia.
Oxendine’s fourth place finish, after being the predicted frontrunner, was particularly sweet to some gay rights advocates giving his long and vocal opposition to LGBT issues. As insurance commissioner, Oxendine repeatedly blocked domestic partner benefits until a judge ordered him to allow them in the state.
Here is background on where Barnes, Handel and Deal stand on gay issues:
Roy E. Barnes
• Met with HRC and Georgia Equality during campaign for his first term as governor, but not during his unsuccessful campaign for reelection.
• Became first sitting Georgia governor to address a gay rights group when he was keynote speaker for an Atlanta Executive Network meeting. During his speech, Barnes expressed general support for no-discrimination. “People should be hired on merit, regardless of anything about them — what color they are, where they came from, or anything else, sexual orientation included,” he said.
• Signed Georgia’s first hate crimes law, although the measure was eventually struck down as “too vague.”
• During her campaigns for Fulton County Commission, supported domestic partner benefits, and was endorsed and a member of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group.
• Has flipped from these positions during her subsequent campaigns for Secretary of State and now governor, stating that she never joined Log Cabin and emails supporting issues like domestic partnerships were written by campaign staff without her knowledge.
• Includes video against same-sex marriage on her campaign website.
• Stated in a recent television interview that she not only opposes gay marriage, but “would consider” a law banning gay adoption.
• As a member of the U.S. House, consistently received scores of zero on HRC’s Congressional report card for LGBT issues and has voted for a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
• In current campaign, has attacked Karen Handel for her past support of gay issues.