Gay civic activist enters state House race in Atlanta

Josh McNair is running for the House District 56 seat in Atlanta to pass a hate crimes law, decriminalize HIV and fight anti-LGBTQ adoption bills.

McNair (photo) is a neighborhood activist, Morehouse College graduate and member of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' LGBTQ Advisory Board. He also serves on the Fulton County HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care & Policy Advisory Committee 

McNair and his husband are going through the adoption process now, so the issue is personal to him. A bill was filed in February that would allow faith-based adoption and foster care agencies in Georgia to refuse to place children with LGBTQ couples. 

“[Adopting is] something we’ve looked forward to for so many years, and discriminatory bills like this that hurt not only LGBTQ couples, but also the 14,000 children in the foster care system in this state,” McNair told Project Q Atlanta. 

“To deny couples who have the ability to adopt children and give them love and security and the opportunity to thrive I think is the wrong message to send through this state,” he added.

McNair wants to succeed state Rep. Mable Thomas, who told the AJC in late February that she’s “99 percent” sure she’s leaving the state legislature to enter the special election for U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s seat. Thomas is a longtime LGBTQ ally. 

House District 56 stretches from Southwest Atlanta up into Midtown. 

McNair said his work on the Fulton HIV committee motivated him to support modernizing the state’s HIV laws. Current Georgia law makes it a crime for people living with HIV to have sex or donate blood without disclosing their status.

“I’ve seen how much of an impact decriminalizing HIV could have,” he said. “It’s important that we treat every citizen fairly regardless of how they identify.”

A Georgia House committee passed an HIV decriminalization bill in February and it now sits in the Rules Committee, which will decide if the full House will vote on it.

The fact that Georgia is one of four states without a hate crimes law is “dismal,” according to McNair.

“It’s past time,” he said. “It’s important that we elect the people to office that will do right by people and I am the person that’s going to do that.”

McNair also wants to pass the Fair Employment Practices Act, which would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ state employees.

“As someone who identifies as LGBTQ and more so being a member of the mayor's LGBTQ advisory board, I’ve learned so much more about why it’s so important that we not discriminate against someone because of who they love or their gender identity,” he said.

Bottoms named McNair to her LGBTQ advisory board in 2018.

McNair ran for the Fulton County Commission in 2017. He is a West End resident and sales trainer for health care diagnostics company Lab Corp.

He is the 15th openly LGBTQ candidate for the state legislature this year, including five incumbents who are running for re-election. 

Photo courtesy Josh McNair