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|Election: Fulton County Commission race includes two lesbian candidates|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Friday, 09 July 2010 00:00|
Two lesbian candidates are vying for the Fulton County Commission District 6 seat, seeking to be the first openly gay person to serve on the Fulton County Commission.
Joan Garner and Keisha Waites, both gay, are seeking the post that has been held for 23 years by Nancy Boxill, who decided to not seek reelection. Also seeking the post are Sally Smith, 56, and David Holder, 31.
These candidates face off against each other in the July 20 Democratic primary. The winner of the primary will be unopposed in the Nov. 2 election, therefore winning the seat.
Joan Garner, a longtime activist who worked for Mayor Maynard Jackson as senior adviser on gay and lesbian issues, is seeking her first elected office. She has received the endorsements of LGBT organizations Georgia Equality, the Atlanta Stonewall Democrats and the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, as well as endorsements from the Atlanta Board of Realtors and Atlanta — North Georgia Labor Union AFL-CIO.
The top issues affecting LGBT people in the district are universal, Garner said.
“We do have a greater interest in issues such as AIDS funding, which is funneled through the county, civil unions and benefits for unmarried partners, safety from discrimination or hate crimes, and providing services that address the well being of LGBT youth, especially homeless young people,” she said.
Garner is principal of Garner Results Inc., a nonprofit and philanthropic consulting firm.
Keisha Waites, who has sought public office unsuccessfully seven times since 2001, declined to participate in the candidate survey.
Smith, a museum shop manager and retired from Fulton County government, is also seeking her first elected office.
“Issues specific to the LGBT community are varied, but all relate to a common core of equality; equality in employment, benefits, civil unions, adoption rights, and health care decisions,” she said.
Holder said the top issues facing LGBT people in his district “mirror the issues affecting LGBT everywhere. 1. Civil Unions; 2. Gay Marriage; 3. Gays in the military.”
When asked about their stances on various LGBT-related issues, Garner and Smith said they would use what power they have as an elected county official to support statewide initiatives to enact a state hate crimes law and a non-discrimination policy for state employees that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Fulton County currently includes a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation.
Garner and Smith said they voted against the 2004 state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and support a law to clarify that sexual orientation should not factor in adoptions.
They both also support repealing the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and believe gay couples should have the right to hospital visitation, the right to make medical and funeral arrangements for each other, the right to inherit each other’s property, the right to adopt a partner’s children, civil unions and marriage.
Holder said he supported a state hate crimes law and a state non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He said he supports the current status of Georgia law being silent on adoptions by gay and lesbian people. When asked if he voted for or against the 2004 state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Holder said he had no position on the amendment and that he has.
Holder only agreed that gay and lesbian couples should have the right to hospital visitation, the right to make medical and funeral arrangements for each other, the right to inherit each other’s property and civil unions. He does not support a gay person’s right to adopt a partner’s child or full legal marriage.
Top photo: Joan Garner (left) and Keisha Waites, both lesbians, face off in the July 20 primary. Sally Smith and David Holder are also on the ballot. (courtesy campaigns)
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