Editorial: That’s so 2004 — Elena Parent goes full-force anti-gay before Tuesday’s primary election

A robocall put out by a DeKalb citizens group today to voters in the state Senate 42nd District calls Elena Parent the “straight shooter” of this race and she is the only candidate “that knows what it takes to raise a family” and “she will continue to represent the values as our state legislator.” Seriously? Seriously.

What do you mean you are a “straight shooter,” Elena Parent? Because you aren’t gay like your opponent, Kyle Williams? Listen to the call below:

Dekalb Citizens For Elena

Obviously Parent and her supporters believe there is absolutely no reason to be coy about their anti-gay campaign anymore and are just going to shove it in our faces. Desperation brings out a person’s true colors and what we are seeing is a woman has said she supports LGBT equality willing to use Williams’ sexual orientation against him. Get angry, people. We cannot put up with this crap. Comparing Williams to Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney is disgusting and vile and is not worthy of a progressive district.

Also today, an email from state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver has gone out to voters praising Parent because “We attend the same church,  she has two beautiful children and she and her husband and boys live in Druid Hills.” Please, this is gay baiting at its worst.

Parent mailer on Kyle backAnother robocall is going out from Elena Parent’s campaign saying “Kyle Williams can’t be trusted” because he accepted an endorsement from the Log Cabin Republicans.

Let’s clear this up once and for all. The Georgia Log Cabin Republicans is a gay group that gave Kyle Williams an endorsement in his bid for the Decatur Commission in 2009. Williams, a Democrat, also received the endorsement from the Georgia Stonewall Democrats, another gay political group.

With the LCR endorsement, no money was exchanged. It was a non-partisan race. Jamie Ensley, the president of the Georgia chapter for Log Cabin Republicans, works and campaigns for local Democrats and fair-minded Republican candidates because he believes in having openly gay elected officials in office. In Georgia. That is it. Period. The Georgia Log Cabin Republicans have never endorsed in a federal race. The Parent campaign is outright lying to the voters about this. And it makes me wonder what else she is lying about.

Oh, wait. Here is something else she lied about. In her first campaign against Republican Jill Chambers, the AJC’s Politifact caught her lying about her opponent’s spending and that Chambers was profiting from taxpayer money.

From the AJC in 2010: “According to Parent’s camp, as Chambers struggled financially, the number of days she said she performed out-of-session committee work jumped from 17 in 2008 to to 43 in 2009, even though the full [MARTA Oversight Committee] met only a few times in 2009. … And contrary to Democrats’ claims, Chambers’ per diem days did not post an unusual jump during her financial difficulties. Their 2010 numbers excluded vouchers she filed after April 19.”

Parent’s campaign in 2010 denied they had anything to do with this mailer denouncing Chambers, much like Parent is denying she had anything to do with the blatantly anti-gay robocall that went out today to District 42 voters. What did the AJC Politifact eventually say about Parent’s attack on Chambers? “Given this information, the accusation that Chambers ‘profits’ from taxpayer money is out of bounds. As Parent is a former chief of staff to a state senator, she and her camp should have known better. Given the flimsy backing to the claim, by the Parent camp’s rules, you could say any legislator “profits” from her work if she claims per diem and mileage. We therefore rule this claim False.”

Is lying a family value that she so proudly heralds as having on her website and in today’s robocall?

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind—anyone who has a mind—that Parent has gone full force anti-gay in the day before the primary election. This is unforgivable. Absolutely unforgivable. And she is angering a large constituency.

“As far as we are concerned, this is an full on anti-gay campaign,” said Glen Paul Freedman, board chair of Georgia Equality, the state’s LGBT advocacy group that works with Republicans and Democrats to get fair policy passed in the General Assembly.

“There is no question in our mind that this all about keeping an out gay man elected to the state Senate. We now would hope that [state Rep.] Karla Drenner and others would see this for what it is,” he added.

Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), the first openly gay person elected to the General Assembly, is endorsing Parent. Part of the reason, and the reason many Democrats are supporting Parent who was a state House representative from 2010-2012, is because Parent backed out of running against a fellow Democrat after the Republicans redistricted the state to pit Democrats against each other. They owe her.

But is that a good enough reason to back someone over a candidate who has fresh ideas, who is most definitely a progressive, a man who promises to not quiver under Republican bullying, a man whose service to his community and his district is sound and honest? Obviously this race has gotten ugly from both sides and people can argue of course the LGBT newspaper is going to endorse and support the gay candidate. But we are a newspaper that is not going to stand for anti-gay tactics that harken back to, truthfully, Republican ideals and strategies from 2004. A decade later we should be beyond this.

Parent became angry when Williams brought up her vote on the HOPE scholarship in one of his mailers comparing her to Nathan Deal. During her one-year tenure in the legislature, she voted to cut funding to the HOPE scholarship. This is a fact and this vote hurt the poor, of course. Her vote was part of some Democratic negotiation plan devised by the party, but that does not make it right. As Williams has said, “she blinked on Hope.” Voting records are in the legitimate field to attack. Williams is right to question Parent on this. Perhaps that is why she has become so very nasty these last few days.

“From the beginning, I have discussed the progressive values of District 42. That discussion includes Elena Parent’s voting record: her vote to gut HOPE, her vote to impede access to the polls by cutting early voting in half, and her vote to privatize water services,” Williams said.

“My opponent has been hiding from the issues, running from her record, and demonstrated that she does not know this district. Her dishonest and desperate statements have been nothing more than an attempt to distract the voters from the real issues: strengthening schools, clean air and water, equal rights, and economic solutions that benefit all families. This district has been my home for over a decade and we deserve a legitimate discussion on the issues. I ask Elena Parent to renounce the Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin distortions,” he added.

Parent continues to trumpet an Atlanta Journal-Constitution Politifact article that states Williams’ mailer that went out saying she voted against the HOPE scholarship is false. The truth is, Politifact is wrong. Parent voted for slashing the HOPE budget before she voted against it.

Republicans chuckle when they see Democrats blink on such issues they supposedly hold dear as Parent and so many others did on HOPE. For Democrats to support Republican legislation just so they can scratch out a few concessions does nothing but empower Republicans to introduce worse legislation. Republicans know they can control Democrats like puppets when they introduce a horrible piece of legislation and know they can simply water it down just a few notches to ensure the Democratic caucus votes in favor.

This strategy is flawed and has to stop. Democrats must take a stand somewhere and we have all seen that Parent is not part of taking that stand. She will toe the party line. This way of legislating only empowers Republicans to keep introducing legislation that is bad for this state. Parent, and Democrats, can’t have it both ways.

Kyle Williams has a long history of being a progressive in the district he has lived in for 10 years. The Democratic machine behind Parent is working very hard to keep an out gay man from serving in the state Senate. Please ask yourself why. And please vote on Tuesday, May 20.

UPDATE: Elena Parent responded to this editorial with this statement, “The robocall mentioned in this story from this ‘Dekalb Citizens Group’ did not come from my campaign or anyone in anyway associated with my campaign. I can only assume this was done as a last minute dirty trick to give voters a false impression of me.”

Jeff Graham, executive director for Georgia Equality, told the GA Voice he did not believe Parent had nothing to do with the anti-gay robocall nor the anti-gay tone of her campaign. The same Democratic establishment that is backing Parent has used anti-gay tactics in the past against openly gay candidates, Graham explained.

“No, I don’t believe her,” he said. “We’ve seen this before.”

UPDATE 2: State Rep. Karla Drenner said she does not condone any anti-gay tactics and had no idea about the robocall that went out today nor the Sarah Palin mailer. She said she spoke to Parent today and Parent denied the robocall came from her or her campaign. Drenner also said she saw the Mitt Romney mailer and believed it to be a response to Williams’ sponsor comparing her to Nathan Deal.

“I don’t support any anti-gay tactics. I thought the Mitt Romney mailer was just a conservative calling conservative piece,” Drenner said late Monday. “That’s all I thought and that’s why I said it wasn’t anti-gay.”

The robocall that went out today saying Parent is a “straight shooter” that “knows what it takes to raise a family” could be construed different ways, Drenner said. If it was meant to be anti-gay, Drenner said that’s a “different ball of wax” and she would not support someone “who is going to drag our community through the mud.”

“Nor do I support when the community bashes me,” she said. “I have a long track record of being consistent with our community.”

Drenner also added that if a voter perceives the robocall as anti-gay, they should not support Parent in Tuesday’s primary.

“I’ve only listened to it once but if the intention was against our community, then they should vote against this person,” she said. “I don’t know what happened but this campaign has taken a serious nosedive.”