In Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, Republican candidate Karen Handel, after softening her anti-LGBTQ positions a tiny bit earlier this spring, has gone full-tilt Anita Bryant in the past few weeks.
Last week, Handel told a reporter that allowing same-sex couples to adopt “is not in the best interest of the child”. When a woman approached Handel and explained that, although she is a Conservative Republican, that as the mother of a gay daughter, she wants her daughter to be able to adopt a kid. Handel responded bluntly:
“I have to be honest, my faith calls me to a different place on that issue.”
She also opposes Marriage Equality and even civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Handel has boasted that she voted no on domestic partner benefits when she was the chair of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.
Many people expected Handel to moderate her anti-LGBTQ positions to appeal to centrist voters in a district not known for hardline social conservatism. But Handel has clung to her hardline stands, hoping to draw a stark contrast with her Democratic rival Jon Ossoff.
Osoff is a true friend to the LGBTQ community. At the Atlanta Equality March, he stated:
“You will be able to count on me to stand up for you every day. I will never shy away from standing with the LGBT community publicly, forcefully, with everything I’ve got. There can be no compromise on civil rights; there can be no compromise on human rights.”
If you don’t know by now, 30-year-old Ossoff is the documentary filmmaker and former political aide who received 48.1% of the vote in the nonpartisan election on April 18. Handel received 18.1%. Since no candidate received 51% of the vote, the top two vote-getters, Ossoff and Handel, face a runoff election tomorrow, June 20.
As Georgia’s Secretary of State, Handel has a long history of suppressing votes. She’s purged voter rolls, blocked Democratic candidates from running, and supported strict voter-ID laws. She is a real sweetheart. She is friends with Mike Pence, although she cannot be alone with him, of course. POTUS has tweeted support for her.
While in high school, Ossoff interned for the great Civil Rights leader and Georgia congressman John Lewis. He graduated from Georgetown University with bachelor’s degree from the School of Foreign Service. One of his professors was former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In 2013, Ossoff earned a Master’s degree from London School of Economics where he wrote his thesis on USA-China relations.
Ossoff worked as a national security advisor and aide to Georgia Representative Hank Johnson (one of only three Buddhists serving in Congress). He had top-secret clearance for five months. For the past four years, he has been CEO of Insight TWI, which produces investigations targeting corrupt officials and organized crime for international news organizations. In 2016, Ossoff served as executive producer for a documentary film for the BBC that exposes the atrocities committed by ISIL/ISIS in Iraq.
The election tomorrow is to replace the spot held by Tom Price, currently Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price won his race to serve Georgia’s Sixth in 2016 with 61.6% of the vote. It might seem like an uphill climb, but Ossoff has made the most his status as a symbol of the Resistance and has smartly used social media to make himself a national political star. The question is, are enough suburban Atlanta voters sufficiently dismayed, disgusted, or even freaked out enough by our POTUS to vote for a Democrat? It seems to matter a lot to both sides; the race is the most expensive election of its kind, topping over $50 million in overall spending.
Ossoff is charming, smart and cute. His campaign supporters wear t-shirts with the slogan “Vote your Ossoff!” And, he staunchly supports LGBTQ people:
“I oppose any legislation or policy that allows discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, and I oppose any religious freedom executive order, which undermines the intent of Congress in order to allow more money into our political system. Same-sex couples should have the same rights as every couple in every context. There’s no excuse for discrimination in federal law or state law, and it’s a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Washington that we’re still having these debates.”
Can Handel handle losing? I hope so. Let’s wish Ossoff the best. His win would send an important message. He is our Monday Mancrush.