Karen Handel started her campaign for Georgia's 6th Congressional District espousing a newfound "compassion" for LGBT people. Turns out it's nothing more than a polite way to wrap up her years-old anti-LGBT views.
Handel, a Republican, once sought out LGBT support and even supported a non-profit that helped LGBT youth. But in statewide campaigns in 2006, 2010 and 2014, Handel went on anti-gay benders and disavowed her LGBT-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.
Fast forward to 2017. In February, as she launched her Congressional campaign, she comfortably used the phrase "LGBTQ," denied that she ever suggested that being gay is a choice, and offered a thoughtful answer on her views about LGBT issues. She struck a note of compassion.
"It's no secret that I'm called to a different place, maybe, for some of the beliefs in the LGBTQ community because of my faith," Handel said at the time. "With that said, I'm also called to be accepting and compassionate."
In a debate earlier this month with Jon Ossoff, her Democratic opponent, Handel even agreed that LGBT people shouldn't face discrimination. It was a big admission for Handel.
Turns out, she doesn't really believe it.
She scoffed at Rep. Park Cannon, one of four LGBTQ state lawmakers, when Cannon tried to introduce herself and offer help on equality issues. On Thursday, Handel drew a red line on adoptions by LGBT people that pushed aside her "compassion" and made it clear her position on the issue is the same as it was in 2010. Via Reporter Newspapers:
When asked about her feelings about gay couples adopting children – an issue she stated she opposed in 2010 during her unsuccessful bid for governor – Handel said her “faith calls me to a very different place on these issues.”
“My faith at the same time calls me to be compassionate and what I have always believed is that what has to be paramount is what is the best interest of the child,” she said.
'Asked to explain further, she said, “The best interest of the child. Period, end of paragraph. That’s not for you to decide. That’s not for me to decide. It’s for the child advocates to decide, whether that be the court or the child’s guardian. The child’s best interest must be paramount.”
At the same event at Wright’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop in Dunwoody, Handel found little compassion for the mother of a gay daughter. Via Georgia Voice:
Handel was also approached by a woman with an LGBT daughter, who asked the candidate what protections she would have if she wanted to adopt children in the future.
“I have to be honest, my faith calls me to a different place on that issue,” Handel said per video taken by a Democratic tracker and obtained by Georgia Voice. “My faith also calls me to be compassionate, and so I always try to do that. I don’t—I’m not aware of anything in the law that, right now, that I’m aware of, that is gonna be impactful from a discriminatory standpoint against your daughter.”
The woman then expressed concerns about Vice President Mike Pence’s anti-LGBT views, saying, “I know what his stance is on LGBT and that scares me, yeah.”
Handel then twice says “the issue’s been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court” and stands up to leave.
Handel doesn't address LGBT issues with the media often – on Feb. 15 when she formally announced her campaign and was pressed by Project Q Atlanta, briefly when she was asked about "religious freedom" legislation during a WSB debate on June 6, and last Thursday by Reporter Newspapers. She's refused repeated requests from Georgia Voice for an indepth conversation about LGBT issues.
She's content to let Ossoff do the talking about LGBT equality. He's been given a hero's welcome at an HRC gala, told LGBT families he'll be their "staunch defender" and pledged to "forcefully" stand with gay Atlantans.