|Lesbian state Rep. Simone Bell comes out ahead in primary battle|
|Written by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2012 22:53|
Ga. Rep. Simone Bell, the first openly lesbian African-American state legislator in the nation, is headed for victory in the Democratic primary for State House District 58.
With 95.82 percent of precincts reporting, Bell has 59.02 percent of the vote, compared to 40.98 percent for Rep. Ralph Long, according to unofficial results from the Fulton County election office.
The two Democratic incumbents faced off in today's primary after Republican redistricting drew them into the same district. The winner will face Republican challenger Earl Cooper in November.
Today's vote is mired in controversy after some Fulton County voters were directed to the wrong precincts and may have voted the wrong ballots.
Bell is one of four openly gay members of the Georgia General Assembly. Rep. Karla Drenner, Georgia's first openly gay state legislator, was unopposed for reelection.
Rep. Keisha Waites, a lesbian who won office in a special election in February, appears to have handily won her bid for her first full term.
Rep. Rashad Taylor, who came out last year while serving in the General Assembly, lost his reelection bid to Rep. Pat Gardner, a Democratic incumbent with a history of supporting LGBT rights. As with Bell and Long, the two were drawn into the same district by Republicans during redistricting.
Bell was elected to the Georgia General Assembly after winning a special election in 2009 and has now served three terms in the legislature. With her win in 2009, she became the first African-American out lesbian to win an election to a state legislature.
Before she was elected, Bell worked as a healthcare administrator with Emory University, a community educator with The Health Initiative which serves health needs of LGBT people and also with Lambda Legal, an LGBT nonprofit legal organization.
Bell is endorsed by Georgia Equality, Atlanta Stonewall Democrats and the Victory Fund.
He considers himself a supporter of LGBT rights and expressed anger during the campaign when Georgia Equality endorsed Bell, which it had supported through all of her campaigns, without first also interviewing him.
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