Elena Parent has released a statement addressing the uproar over the mailer she sent to District 42 residents attempting to link Kyle Williams with Mitt Romney, which Williams’ supporters are now saying was an anti-LGBT attack on the openly gay Decatur lawyer.
Today Kyle Williams’ campaign released a statement defending a previous endorsement he received from a Republican organization opposed to President Obama, the Affordable Care Act, and whose most recent online posts include articles denying climate change. The same organization and its Chapter President signed onto the Williams’ campaign statement today.
Parent also enlisted supporter and lesbian state Representative Karla Drenner to comment on her behalf.
“This is not an LGBT issue,” said Karla Drenner, who has endorsed Elena Parent and is the first openly gay state legislator in Georgia. “This is a Democratic Primary and this Republican group spews vitriol at Democrats on a daily basis in its news feed. As recently as Tuesday, they posted an article accusing President Obama of ignoring terrorists. I can assure you Elena would never accept the endorsement of the Georgia Federation of Republican Women or the Concerned Women for America.”
What’s missing from Parent’s statement is the Republican group’s name—the Log Cabin Republicans. She has continued to leave out the group’s name each time she’s used it against Williams. We surmised in an earlier post that it’s because people will paint her as homophobic, but everyone knows what group she’s talking about at this point so it’s unclear why she doesn’t just name it.
Regardless of whether or not people think Parent’s attacks are anti-LGBT, it is clear that the Romney mailer is inaccurate and misleading. The National Log Cabin Republicans and the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans are two different groups. The national group endorsed Romney in 2012, and has never endorsed Williams. The local group however did endorse him in 2009, but they only endorse Republicans in partisan races, so they’ve stayed out of this race.
Georgia Equality Board Chair Glen Paul Freedman has released a statement decrying Parent’s use of “anti-LGBT tactics”:
We are appalled that in the final days Kyle Williams for State Senate race for GA State Senate District 42, GA Primary that his opponent’s campaign has moved to use anti-LGBT tactics against Kyle Williams for receiving support and endorsements from various diverse LGBT organizations and individuals and for standing firm on issues that are important to the entire district and Georgia. District 42 is one of the highest pro-LGBT districts in the State. Kyle is a member of the GA LGBT community and has major support from the entire district community to become our next GA State Senator of District 42.
Kyle Williams is endorsed by Georgia Equality, Georgia Stonewall Democrats, Victory Fund & Institute and key community leaders within District 42.
After a press conference this afternoon, Freedman expressed his dismay that Drenner was falling in step with Parent and her recent tactics.
“As board chair of Georgia Equality and as someone who has been involved in many LGBT campaigns and working to get LGBT candidates elected, I think this is definitely an LGBT issue. We can no longer be the punching bag for these candidates who want to use gay candidates to divide us,” he said.
“I’m really appalled and upset that Karla Drenner has come out publicly and endorsed these anti-LGBT tactics and not helping any LGBT candidates,” he said. “It’s appalling Ms. Drenner is endorsing this and not helping us in any way.”
Kyle Williams was also distressed with Parent’s mailer and Drenner’s endorsement of her campaign.
“It’s not an attack on me, it’s not a legitimate debate of the issues, it’s not a conversation about voting records, instead it is divisive intentional politics as usual intended to divide the LGBT community and pit us against each other and distract us from real issues,” he said. “I am the progressive candidate this district needs.”
“This is almost laughable which makes it all the more dangerous to label me a Mitt Romney Republican,” he added.
Cindy Abel, former co-chair of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, issued a statement:
Last year, I completed a documentary that features openly LGBT elected officials.
We made Breaking Through to showcase positive role models to counter the barrage of anti-gay messages and show people who are struggling that anything is possible – despite what the media and people around them might be saying.
We featured openly LGBT elected officials at all levels who’d broken through all types of barriers – from race and poverty to gender and sexual orientation.
And then they ran for office and faced a whole new set of obstacles. Some of the worst dirty tricks and lies came from people within their own party, who claimed to share their values.
Like them, Kyle Williams had to overcome obstacles that might’ve easily prevented him from going to college. And like them, he is now facing what they faced on the campaign trail: misleading attacks from a fellow Democrat.
It’s bad enough that his opponent is distorting a gay organization’s endorsement shared by several other long-standing Democrats in a non-partisan race 5 years ago.
But what worries me is that the impact doesn’t stop there. The message is heard loud and clear beyond the campaign and into schools and workplaces: being LGBT is a liability and it is better to stay in the closet — or, as we continue to see throughout the country, to just give up and end your life, because it won’t be worth living.
Yes, I want Kyle Williams to win because he is eminently qualified and has demonstrated that through years of selfless service and engaged leadership in his district.
But I also want him to win so that young people, from all backgrounds, can see that it is possible to succeed. I want him to win so that people of all ages, of all walks of life, can know that regardless of their current circumstances, they can break through the barriers and live the life of their dreams.
And when he does, perhaps LGBT people won’t be as fair game in the world of attack politics.