Keisha Waites sworn in as fourth openly gay Ga. representative


You can now call her state Rep. Keisha Waites.

Waites took the oath of office today to become the state representative for District 60. The ceremony took place at the Georgia State Capitol with Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs swearing her in.

Standing with Waites as she took the oath of office were her mother, Christine Harden, and her nephew, Elias Muhammad, who held the Bible.

Waites, a Democrat, became emotional at times while being sworn in and after taking her oath thanked a host of friends, family and supporters who have backed her for more than a decade.

Waites won a special election on Feb. 7 to represent District 60, which includes parts of Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton counties.

 The special election was to fill a seat vacated by Democrat Gloria Tinubu, who was sworn in on Jan. 10, 2011. In December, Tinubu announced she was resigning, moving to South Carolina and running for Congress. Waites will have to run for election again in November; qualifying is in May.

The campaign was Waites’ ninth bid for public office. She has previously sought seats in the Georgia House, Georgia Senate, the Fulton County Commission and the Atlanta City Council.

Waites is the fourth openly gay member of the Georgia General Assembly. State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) made history as Georgia’s first openly gay state lawmaker. She was followed by Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta), who also ran for office as an open lesbian. State Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta) was already in the state legislature when he came out as gay last year.

Waites is a contract employee with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She is also a business owner who owns four houses and rents to low-income families. She holds a degree in political science from Georgia Perimeter College and was a track star at Lakewood High School.

Photo: Keisha Waites (right) is sworn in as Georgia state representative for District 60 by Fulton Superior Court Judge Doris Downs. With Waites are her mother, Christine Harden, and nephew, Elias Muhammad. (by Dyana Bagby)