State Rep. Pat Gardner: Possible anti-gay campaigning ‘makes me want to cry’

Rashad Taylor and Pat Gerdner

State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) said today her campaign has nothing to do with alleged anti-gay tactics against openly gay state Rep. Rashad Taylor as the two incumbents vie for the new District 57 seat.

Taylor and Gardner, both Democrats, were drawn into the same district during Republican-controlled redistricting in the wake of the 2010 Census. Taylor made the allegations Monday and is holding a press conference this morning at the state Capitol. Gardner also has a media news briefing/roundtable lunch planned today at Paschal’s restaurant on the “politics of race, gender and gerrymandering in the new District 57.”

Taylor said flyers were distributed in black neighborhoods in southwest Atlanta over the weekend that he believed were anti-gay.

In an interview late Monday, Taylor said he did not believe Gardner was directly involved, but the flyers would help her campaign.

“There are only two people in this race. I don’t think Pat Gardner is behind it and I believe if she knew about it she would condemn it,” Taylor said. “But there are people supporting her perhaps working under the table.”

Gardner stressed Tuesday that the alleged flyer did not come from her campaign.

“I’m very distressed about the allegations,” Gardner said today. “My campaign would never resort to those kinds of actions. It’s very unfortunate whoever did this. This behavior is inexcusable.”

Gardner, a strong LGBT ally during her 11 years in office, said the allegation “makes me want to cry” because it is so far from the spirit of her campaign and her record as a lawmaker.

“I have been very clear about gay-baiting and there will be none of it. It’s sad because we are playing into the hands of the people who want to divide us,” she said. “My campaign knows I feel very sternly about keeping this campaign clean. They work for me.”

Gardner did say she thought the timing of Taylor’s press conference on the same day of her media roundtable was “kind of weird.”

“This is just a distraction to divide us up,” she said.

“I don’t believe the flyer came from Rashad’s camp. He has been a colleague and friend,” she added.

Taylor said Monday he planned to contact Gardner the same day via email. Gardner said she did not hear from him and she attempted to call him this morning but he apparently has a new phone number and she could not reach him.

“My style is when I hear rumors is to call the person first,” she said. “My cell phone hasn’t changed in years.”