Georgia's never had this many before, and this is a good sign for equality. While the state as a whole is a different story altogether, the metro Atlanta area is fairly tolerant of gay candidates. And members of the LGBT community are happy and eager to support these men and women.
From the AJC:
4 openly gay people in primaryMarriage issue fuels candidacies
By NANCY BADERTSCHER
The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 07/15/06
Four openly gay candidates are on the ballot in Tuesday's legislative primaries, a record for Georgia, according to activists.
Voters seated the first and only openly gay legislator, Karla Drenner, in 2000. A handful of gay and lesbian politicians now hold office in local governments.
"It's just a natural progression," said Allen Thornell, a gay activist running for state House District 58 in intown Atlanta. "There are more and more people who are out, and society is becoming increasingly tolerant."
In addition to Thornell, the gay House candidates include:
• Drenner, a three-term Democratic lawmaker from Avondale Estates and an environmental engineer;
• Melanie Eyre, an attorney and Democrat running in House District 46, the Alpharetta/Roswell area;
• Luther Maloney, an information technology specialist in an Atlanta House District that stretches from Ansley Park to Atlanta University Center.
Drenner made headlines in 2000 as the first openly gay legislator not just in Georgia but the entire South. She was unopposed for re-election in House District 86 until this year, when Morehouse School of Medicine professor and consultant Cynthia Tucker of Stone Mountain decided to challenge her in the Democratic primary. With no Republicans in the race, the winner takes the seat.
Drenner and Thornell are being backed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a national organization that funds and trains gay and lesbian candidates, and Georgia Equality, an advocacy group for the gay, lesbian and transgender communities.
Officials with both groups said their endorsements were based on the candidates' records and electability. Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said, "There's no question that the spread of anti-gay marriage referenda have produced more gay candidacies."
Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said he sees a couple of factors at play, including polls that show many voters don't care about a candidate's sexual orientation.
Thornell is competing against three other Democrats for the chance to succeed longtime Democrat Rep. Nan Orrock, who's making a bid for the Senate. Also running in the winner-take-all primary are nonprofit manager Paul Bolster and two attorneys, Elena Kaplan and Robbin Shipp.
In the Alpharetta/Roswell area of north Fulton, the race between Democrat Eyre and one-term Republican incumbent Jan Jones doesn't move into high gear until after the primary, since it won't be settled until the November general election.
In House District 56, Maloney is one of two Democrats challenging incumbent Kathy Ashe, an Atlanta Democrat generally viewed as gay-friendly.
I've already highlighted Allen and Karla on this blog and hope they pull through. As the article notes, Kathy Ashe has been a good friend to the gay community. And since Melanie's only opposition will be from a Republican in the fall, I look forward to keeping tabs on her race and sharing my thoughts on her closer to election time.