With Election Day behind us, and the legislative session just around the corner, there’s no way to tell what the cards hold for LGBT equality in 2017. But one thing is clear: This week, Georgia voted in overwhelming support of candidates who support LGBT equality.
Several candidates running this year made a point to campaign on their support or opposition to the anti-LGBT HB 757, legislation introduced earlier this year, which would have explicitly legalized discrimination against LGBT Georgians, single women, religious minorities and others if it had not been vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal in March.
For many incumbents, their support for HB 757 was a severe liability, opening them up to strong criticism on the trail as well as challengers from the other side of the aisle. Six incumbents who voted for HB 757 faced challengers, a fact that—in of itself—demonstrates that a vote for anti-LGBT legislation is a risk to reelection.
Reps. Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans—who were a strong opposition front to HB 757, and voted against the discriminatory legislation—held their seats and will continue to serve as strong proponents of passing inclusive protections for LGBT people statewide.
In addition to these champions of equality, Georgia elected a record number of LGBT candidates to state legislature!
“Georgia voters are rejecting the politics of discrimination.”
Rep. Keisha Waites, a lesbian who has represented Atlanta’s 60th House District since 2012, held her seat last night, as did the Georgia General Assembly’s other two openly LGBT members, Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) and Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta), who both ran unopposed.
And we’ll be adding one more member to this group of three: Sam Park will become the first openly gay man elected to the Georgia General Assembly. Park made history when he upseated three-term incumbent, Rep. Valerie Clark, a staunch supporter of anti-LGBT HB 757.
Our own Jeff Graham lauded the victory as a sign of rising support for LGBT equality among Georgians: “The election of an openly gay man to the Georgia General Assembly represents just one more step on the road to full equality for LGBT people in Georgia. Not only is the election of Sam important for the LGBT and Asian-American communities, it is also an acknowledgement that Georgia voters are rejecting the politics of discrimination.”
On Election Day, Georgia voters sent a strong message to lawmakers: Equality is a winning platform. Now, as legislators prepare for the 2017 session, we urge them to listen to the Georgia voters who cast their ballots in the name of fairness, dignity, and equality under the law—and take steps to advance LGBT non-discrimination protections.SHARE THIS STORY