Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock are on the ballot in January to unseat Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively, from the U.S. Senate. While this runoff election represents an opportunity to take Democratic control of the Senate, therefore empowering the new Biden-Harris administration to pass pro-equality legislation, it also represents an opportunity to replace anti-LGBTQ politicians with allied public servants.
In an interview with Georgia Voice, Ossoff expressed his explicit support of the LGBTQ community, saying his allyship was a personal reflection of the convictions he was raised with and taught by mentors like the late civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis.
“My first exposure to public service was working as a very, very young man with Congressman John Lewis, and his philosophy of human rights and building the beloved community where we recognize and respect and uphold and protect the fundamental dignity of every person is essential to my own world view,” Ossoff said. “That’s why I’ll fight to strengthen civil rights legislation, to pass the Equality Act, to ensure that sexual orientation and gender are protected classes in federal civil rights statutes and to ensure there is no discrimination against people on the basis of their gender [identity] or sexual orientation.”
By contrast, Ossoff’s opponent, Perdue, has a staunch anti-LGBTQ record. Ossoff condemned this record and Perdue as a politician, claiming he cared more about “enriching himself in office” than “tak[ing] care of the rest of us.”
“David Perdue represents, in my view, everything that is wrong with Washington,” he said. “In terms of the issues of particular concern to the LGBTQ community, David Perdue has been an advocate for allowing discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. He has been a critic of marriage equality. David Perdue is not committed to universal human rights, and he has been too busy enriching himself in office to take care of the rest of us.”
While Warnock was unable to speak with Georgia Voice due to time constraints, Reese McCranie, former Georgia Deputy State Director for the Biden-Harris campaign and a national board member of GLAAD, spoke on his behalf. As a member of the LGBTQ community himself, McCranie vouched for Warnock’s allyship and commitment to equal rights.
“Rev. Warnock really comes from a place of LGBTQ love, acceptance, and equality, and you can hear it in his sermons and when he’s speaking to voters.” McCranie told Georgia Voice. “For years, he’s been preaching a message of equality and acceptance. I know him personally, and I know that’s just part of his genetic makeup. As a pastor at Ebenezer, he’s at the front lines of social justice issues, and underneath [the umbrella of] social justice issues, LGBTQ equality is a big part of that. I know from personal experience, because I’ve actually attended his church a few times, that he’s spoken very passionately about LGBTQ rights.”
McCranie said that, by comparison, Loeffler lacks a “north star” and isn’t the right person to advance LGBTQ rights.
“Raphael Warnock has fought every day of his life for people who are downtrodden and essentially left in the margins,” he said. “LGBTQ people are in those margins. We’ve come a great distance, but there’s much work left to do. Kelly Loeffler isn’t the right person to do it … Kelly Loeffler is guided by her balance sheet, not by morals.”
Furthermore, McCranie said that pro-equality moves to be made by the Biden-Harris administration, like “passage of the Equality Act, appointing pro-equality Supreme Court justices, [and] any work around HIV/AIDS advocacy,” will be stymied if Loeffler and Perdue continue to serve on the Senate.
“The only way the incoming presidential administration is going to be able to enact the legislation necessary for recovery, to empower public health experts to fight the virus, to get immediate financial relief to ordinary people and small businesses, to invest in infrastructure and clean energy to jump-start our economy is if they can govern, and that requires winning these two Senate races,” Ossoff said.
As McCranie concluded, “Electing Kelly Loeffler [and David Perdue] would essentially extend Donald Trump’s terrible reign from the past four years.”
The runoff elections will be held on January 5, and early voting began December 14. Until the end of the election, Ossoff urges everyone to get the word out and encourage friends and family to vote, while McCranie suggests getting involved with Ossoff’s and Warnock’s campaigns by canvassing, phone and text banking, and signing up for volunteer shifts.