None of the candidates to be Georgia’s next governor have campaigned for LGBT votes, although several have long — mostly negative — records on LGBT issues.
Most candidates declined to respond to surveys from the Georgia Voice and LGBT political groups, while several Republican candidates have tried to use their opposition to gay rights as campaign strategies.
Among the major Democratic candidates, former Gov. Roy Barnes has the clearest, generally positive record of not shutting out gay constituents, largely due to his former term in office.
Among the Republicans, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine has continued his outspoken opposition to fairness for LGBT couples in his bid for higher office, while former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal has attempted to use former Secretary of State Karen Handel’s past support for issues like domestic partner benefits against her.
Election: Governor’s race offers little positive for gay voters
Thurbert Baker Occupation: Attorney General Residence: Atlanta, GA Website: www.thurbertbaker.com • As Georgia’s attorney general, Baker’s office defended the 2004 state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage when it was challenged in court. When the state Supreme Court upheld the ban, Baker issued a statement calling the decision “correct” and saying he was “pleased with the court’s ruling respecting the voters’ choice.” • Baker’s office also defended Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine when he was sued for failing to approve domestic partner benefits. (See Oxendine entry)
Roy E. Barnes Occupation: Attorney Residence: Marietta, GA Website: www.roy2010.com • 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.”
Bill Bolton Occupation: Management Consultant Residence: Marietta, GA Website: www.BillBoltonGovernor.org • Returned the Georgia Equality survey • The only Democratic gubernatorial candidate to answer the Georgia Voice candidate survey, Bolton said he supports full marriage rights for gay couples. • Bolton also says he would sign hate crimes legislation, and would publicly support legislation to offer domestic partner benefits to state employees, clarify that sexual orientation should not be a factor in adoptions, and repeal the state ban on gay marriage. • Bolton said he would veto a statewide non-discrimination law on sexual orientation and gender identity for private businesses. • View his survey at www.thegavoice.com
Randal Mangham Occupation: Attorney/ Clergy/ Entrepreneur Residence: Decatur, GA Website: www.randalmangham.com • As a member of the Georgia General Assembly, voted twice in favor of the state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
DuBose Porter Occupation: Attorney/CEO Newspaper Publishing Residence: Dublin, GA Website: www.porterforgeorgia.com • As a member of the Georgia General Assembly, voted twice in favor of the state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; was Speaker Pro Tempore of the House during the debate. • Also voted for a bill sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) to prevent cities from requiring private businesses to offer domestic partner benefits to be eligible for city contracts.
Nathan Deal Occupation: Former Congressman Residence: Gainesville, GA Website: www.dealforgovernor.com • 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.
Karen Handel Occupation: Former Secretary of State Residence: Alpharetta, GA Website: www.karenhandel.com • 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.
Eric Johnson Occupation: Architect Residence: Atlanta, GA Website: www.johnsonforgeorgians.com • As a member of Georgia Senate, voted for state constitutional ban on gay marriage. • In his capacity as president pro tempore of the Georgia Senate, Johnson was named as a defendant in Vandy Beth Glenn’s federal job discrimination lawsuit. Glenn was fired from her job as a legislative editor when she announced she is transgender and planned to transition from male to female.
Ray McBerry Occupation: Radio and Television Residence: McDonough, GA Website: www.GeorgiaFirst.org • Website includes pledge of support for citizen initiatives “which guarantees the People a remedy against the very real threat of betrayal of their values by elected and appointed officials serving special interests.” Such initiatives have commonly been used to turn back gay marriages.
John W. Oxendine Occupation: Commissioner of Insurance Residence: Norcross, GA Website: www.johnoxendine.com • As Insurance Commissioner, sought to prevent domestic partner benefits in Georgia; the city of Atlanta eventually sued over Oxendine’s repeated rejections and won a court decision against Oxendine, paving the way for DP benefits to be available in the state. • Oxendine has repeatedly denounced gay marriage and attempted to make it a campaign issue even after Georgia’s 2004 constitutional amendment. • In October 2009, his campaign for governor released a press statement denouncing the Equality March, a grassroots LGBT rights march in Washington, D.C. “I am asking Georgians of all races to come together on the issue of traditional marriage and do all we can to protect this sacred institution,” Oxendine said.
Otis Putnam Occupation: Wal-Mart Residence: Brunswick, GA Website: otisputnamga.tripod.com • Billing himself as the “regular guy for governor,” Putnam is the only Republican candidate for governor to return the Georgia Voice survey on LGBT issues. • Putnam said he would publicly oppose most LGBT legislation, including non-discrimination laws, a hate crimes law and DP benefits for state employees. • Said he supports the current status of state law which is silent on gay adoptions. • Opposes gay marriage and civil unions but says gay couples should get hospital visitation, funeral and medical decision-making rights “if the person’s family can’t be contacted or if his/her family doesn’t want to be involved, but family members should get first shot.” • Adds: “As a Christian, I love all people. I don’t support hate toward any person no matter their sexual orientation.” • View his full Georgia Voice survey at www.thegavoice.com