Editor's note: This letter was submitted by Rep. Karla Drenner in response to a March 11 editorial by Laura Douglas-Brown titled "Gay state rep honors gay politician and lobbyist — only without the 'gay.'" Click here to read.

Dear Editor,

It was my great pleasure last week to author a resolution in the Georgia General Assembly to honor my longtime friend and colleague Cathy Woolard.

As most readers already know, Cathy is our very own Georgia treasure who has made her mark in this country and on the rest of the world. Her dedication to the needs of women and children, transportation, affordable housing, fair and equal treatment in the workplace, reproductive rights and human rights is remarkable. 

Cathy is also gay.

Because of her sexuality — or maybe in spite of it — Cathy has worked harder to bring fairness and justice to Atlanta, to this region, indeed to this nation. Her tireless efforts during her tenure in Washington, D.C., helped many gay employees realize workplace justice.

Drenner: Resolution honoring Woolard shows ‘acceptance strategy’

Your readers must forgive, then, my complete dismay at a recent opinion editorial essentially calling me and other gay elected officials out for not being gay-enough trumped the positive press moment of honoring Cathy Woolard.

None of the elected officials called out in your piece — me, Cathy, or Rep. Simone Bell — have ever hidden being gay. We didn’t hide it when we ran for office (each of us becoming a first in our respective offices), we don’t hide it now that we are in office, and we certainly didn’t hide from being gay when we authored the resolution citing name after name of gay-led organizations that Cathy has been involved in.

Many of us hold the opinion that while being gay is central to who we are as individuals, it is not the only thing that defines us. The same is true of being a parent. Being a mother is one of the more remarkable things I have done in my life, but being a mom in itself does not define me.

Had any of the resolutions you cited in your editorial sidelined or exempted gay organizations the honorees had been part, it might have warranted calling us out. That was not the case. 

Isn’t it fabulous that in 2011, the Georgia General Assembly can honor the first openly gay elected official in our state (via a resolution authored by two other openly gay elected officials) for her many talents and accomplishments without having to define her alone by her sexuality? Or not pass the resolution because of her sexuality?

Cathy is a tenacious and savvy advocate for the many causes she embraces. Rep. Bell and I would like to believe we are equally strident in championing the causes we hold near and dear. 

Instead of a “closeting strategy,” as your paper suggests, passing this resolution might better be described as an “acceptance strategy.” 

And ain’t it grand?

Rep. Karla Drenner

Drenner, the first openly gay member elected to the Ga. House of Representatives, lives in DeKalb County.