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|Georgia Rep. Simone Bell to speak at San Diego Pride event|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|July 13, 2011 23:29|
Georgia State Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) heads out west this weekend to speak at the San Diego Women's Pride Brunch before the parade steps off.
Bell, the first African-American out lesbian elected to a state legislature, speaks at the 11th annual brunch on Saturday, July 16.
“I ran for office so that I could bring together all of my passions toward social justice and human rights,” Bell said in an interview with the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.
“I’ve worked in the LGBT community for many years. I also worked in health care for more than 10 years. I’ve been an organizer in my neighborhood around affordable housing, elder issues, youth empowerment, etc. I’ve also been out since I was 13 years old,” Bell said. “Running for public office was very organic to the journey I was on.”
The brunch is a fundraiser for the national Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, an organization that works to elect openly LGBT people to public offices.
The brunch also precedes San Diego Pride's parade which includes gay-fave Margaret Cho riding along with other LGBT marchers. Cho's concert film, "Cho Dependent," was filmed in Atlanta and was a favorite at the critically acclaimed San Francisco Frameline festival.
Bell also told SDGLN that she believes "all politics affect the LGBT community" and plans to work on a bill in the Georgia legislature that would guarantee workplace protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees.
“I don’t subscribe to single issue politics. Doing politics from that framework is counter to being effective as a legislator," Bell said. "However, currently there is a piece of legislation that is in the very early stages, sponsored by my colleague, Rep. Karla Drenner, that seeks to provide workplace protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees. I’m a co-signer on the bill and will work to see it become law.”
Drenner's bill, named the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Bill, HB 630, has 70 sponsors and cosponsors, including 12 Republicans. Drenner was the first openly gay person elected to the Georgia legislature. In May, state Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta) came out as gay.
Bell won a special election in 2009 to become the second openly gay person to serve in the Georgia General Assembly, and the first openly lesbian African-American state legislator in the country. Bell was elected unopposed for a full term in November 2010, and has been a voice for progressive issues at the Gold Dome, including speaking out against the state’s new immigration law.
She was named Best Politician this year by GA Voice readers. She and her partner Val Acree have been together for 22 years.
Top photo: State Rep. Simone Bell (by Bo Shell)
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