It was a great Election Day for LGBT equality across the nation, but in the red state of Georgia there is still much work to be done to move forward.
Lesbian candidates ruled the night in Georgia. State Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) easily coasted to victory Nov. 6 by defeating Republican challenger Earl Cooper to retain her District 58 seat.
State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) and state Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta), both openly gay, return to the House after having no challengers in the general election. Drenner represents District 85 and will serve her seventh term in the legislature. Waites represents District 60 and will serve her first full term after winning a special election in February.
Tonight's election means there will be three openly lesbian members of the Georgia General Assembly. State Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) easily won her reelection bid against Republican Earl Cooper, while Reps. Karla Drenner and Keisha Waites were unopposed on today's ballot.
With percent 91.67 percent reporting, Bell had 87.19 percent of the House District 58 vote, according to unofficial results from the Fulton County election office. She became the first openly lesbian African-American state lawmaker in the nation when she won a special election in 2009, and won a tough primary in June when she faced off against fellow incumbent Democrat Rep. Ralph Long thanks to GOP-led redistricting.
But tonight's election likely means the General Assembly will include no openly gay men when it convenes in January. In Athens, Tim Riley, a Democrat, lost his bid for State Senate District 47 to Republican Rep. Frank Ginn. With three out of four counties in the district reporting, Riley had 34.54 percent of the vote, compared to 65.46 percent for Ginn, according to unofficial results from the Georgia Secretary of State.
I think it’s wonderful to be homosexual. I, for one, am a proud homosexual Atlantan. I am also a member of the gay community, or the LGBTQI community, or, you know, I’m “family.”
For many years I have advocated for the proud and unashamed use of the word “homosexual” in order to reclaim it as a positive word.
As news editor of Atlanta Progressive News, I have used the word pretty consistently and published an editorial policy statement about it in 2006. Over the years, I have had a lot of debates with friends and colleagues about it. Recently, I received a call from State Rep. Karla Drenner, who insisted she is not homosexual; she is a lesbian.
Three out of four openly gay incumbents in the Georgia General Assembly proved victorious in Tuesday's primary, while gay challengers in contested races were less successful. A lesbian attorney also won a seat on the Fulton County State Court in the July 31 vote.
Georgia’s upcoming primary election represents another junction in the intersecting fates of state Rep. Karla Drenner’s political party, and her movement — the two passing each other as they spiral in opposite directions.
When Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) became the Deep South’s first openly gay state legislator in 2001, the Democrats had controlled both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly and the governor’s mansion for more than 100 years.
Today, they control nothing. And the day after the July 31 primaries, they will be even more powerless due to Republican-drawn redistricting maps that are expected to reduce Georgia Democrats to super-minority status in the state legislature for at least the next decade.
Dean of the Gold Dome’s ‘LGBT Caucus’ set to win 7th term
Georgia Equality, the state's largest LGBT political group, today announced its slate of endorsements for the July 31 primary election. Early voting is already underway and runs through July 27.
Georgia Equality's picks include three openly gay incumbent state lawmakers: Reps. Karla Drenner, Simone Bell and Keisha Waites, and one openly gay candidate, Ken Britt.
Georgia Equality chose not to endorse in the hotly contested race involving the state legislature's fourth openly gay member, Rep. Rashad Taylor, who thanks to Republican-controlled redistricting is pitted for reelection against fellow Democrat Rep. Pat Gardner, a longtime LGBT rights ally.
Georgia Equality also chose to endorse incumbent gay rights ally Rep. Margaret Kaiser over openly gay challenger William Phelps in that Democratic primary race.
Kathy Ashe, who decided not to seek reelection for Ga. House District 56, today announced her endorsement of gay political advocate Ken Britt to fill that post.
"I wholeheartedly support Ken Britt as the next Representative of the 56th District,” said Ashe in a prepared statement.
“Ken has a passion for community service, the business acumen and experience, and an impressive track record of leadership on progressive community and political issues. I cannot think of another individual better suited to this role, and I would be reassured and proud to know that my constituents, old and new, would have Ken championing their interests in the Georgia Legislature."