Anti-LGBTQ incumbents fall on Election Day in Georgia

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A “religious freedom” bill sponsor, a woman who is against gay adoptions and a woman who suggested quarantining people living with HIV were all defeated in Tuesday’s elections.

However, the margins of victory in Sam Teasley (top photo, middle), Karen Handel (top photo, right) and Betty Price’s (top photo, left) races is less than one percent, making the three anti-LGBTQ candidates eligible to request a recount.

In other news from the state legislature, LGBTQ ally Jen Jordan fended off a Republican challenger to keep her Senate seat in metro Atlanta. And LGBTQ ally and former state Rep. Sally Harrell flipped a different state Senate seat in metro Atlanta from red to blue.

Two hotly contested congressional races in metro Atlanta are neck-and-neck. Lucy McBath leads Handel in the 6th District race, and Rob Woodall leads LGBTQ ally Carolyn Bourdeaux in the 7th District race. 

A rundown of six races involving allies and opponents of LGBTQ rights is below, and check out our recap of the races involving LGBTQ candidates here.

State House District 37 in Marietta


Democratic challenger Mary Frances Williams beat state Rep. Sam Teasley (photo above) by less than 150 votes, for a tally of 50.31 percent to 49.69 percent. 

Williams has not declared victory and Teasley has not conceded.

Teasley has been pushing anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” bills for the last five years with little success. He tried it in 2014, then he paired up with state Sen Josh McKoon but failed again in 2015.

He co-sponsored another one in 2016 that went nowhere, and he continued voting for the legislation through his remaining time in office.

Teasley is the third lawmaker who made “religious freedom” bills their signature issue to lose elections this year.

State Sen. David Shafer lost to former Rep. Geoff Duncan in this year’s GOP race for lieutenant governor. Shafer was co-sponsor of a bill earlier this year that would have allowed faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to ban LGBT people — one of several times he has pushed anti-LGBT legislation as the Senate’s No. 2 official.

McKoon was a favorite to win the Republican nomination for secretary of state, but he came in third in the four-man race and missed a runoff by nearly 40,000 votes. 

McKoon became the face of anti-LGBT “religious freedom” legislation over the past five years in the legislature, but any substantial such bills failed to pass. McKoon has also trolled LGBT Georgians for years, tried to retaliate against LGBT-friendly businesses and called the medical needs of transgender military members “absurd.”

State House District 48 in Roswell


Mary Robichaux beat state Rep. Betty Price (photo above) 50.28 percent to 49.72 percent. 

Price infamously suggested that people living with HIV in Georgia should be quarantined.

In addition to the quarantine comments Price made in a House committee meeting, she said, “It seems to me it’s almost frightening the number of people who are living that are potentially carriers, well they are carriers, with the potential to spread, whereas in the past they died more readily and then at that point they are not posing a risk. So we’ve got a huge population posing a risk if they are not in treatment.”

She later said her comments were taken out of context.

State Senate District 6 in Northwest Atlanta


LGBTQ ally Jen Jordan (photo above) handily beat Republican challenger Leah Aldredge 58 percent to 42 percent.

She beat an anti-LGBTQ Democratic primary candidate in 2017 on the way to winning the seat and assuming office, where she proceeded to speak out against anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” legislation.

Both Georgia Equality and Georgia Stonewall Democrats backed her in the race against Aldredge.

State Senate District 40 in Dunwoody


Former state Rep. Sally Harrell (photo above) beat Republican incumbent Fran Millar by 10 points.

Harrell told Project Q that she entered the race in part to protect her teenage daughter, who recently came out as LGBTQ.

“So [LGBTQ rights] issues have hit us personally at home,” Harrell said. “I would support these issues anyway, but it makes it that much more intense to have a family member who is and will be affected by the decisions that are made on these issues.”

During her time in the legislature, she was one of only a handful of Democrats in 2004 to vote against a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Millar backed an anti-LGBTQ adoption bill, but claimed he supports gay adoption. He also voted in favor of a controversial “religious freedom” bill that passed in both chambers in 2016 before Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed it.

6th Congressional District in Metro Atlanta


Lucy McBath declared victory on Wednesday in her congressional election against anti-LGBTQ U.S. Rep. Karen Handel (photo above).

McBath led Handel 50.45 percent to 49.55 percent, with just under 3,000 votes separating the two. Handel has yet to concede.

In statewide campaigns in 2006, 2010 and 2014, Handel went on anti-gay benders and disavowed her LGBTQ-friendly positions of the past. Her worst moments came in 2010 when she blasted civil unions, same-sex marriage and even agreed that adoptions by gay people should be banned. Four years later, she doubled-down and went as far as suggesting that being gay is a choice.

She doubled down on her opposition to gay adoption in the final days of her 2017 race against Jon Ossoff, but was still able to win.

7th Congressional District in Forsyth and Gwinnett Counties


U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall leads Georgia State University professor Carolyn Bourdeaux (photo above) 50.16 percent to 49.84 percent, for a difference of less than 1,000 votes.

NBC News called the race for Bourdeaux on Tuesday night, but then later retracted the call saying they received votes with a data entry error that incorrectly reported that 100 percent of precincts were reporting.

Bourdeaux’s campaign emailed supporters on Wednesday saying the race was too close to call and that she wasn’t giving up. Woodall has yet to declare victory. The margin of victory is within one percent, making Bourdeaux eligible to request a recount.

In 2016, Woodall signed onto a letter blasting federal guidelines on protecting transgender students. He later co-sponsored the anti-LGBTQ First Amendment Defense Act.

UPDATE | Karen Handel conceded the 6th Congressional District election on Friday morning and congratulated Lucy McBath. Her statement via Facebook:


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