Georgia Democrats make push for LGBTQ voters in Senate runoffs

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Georgia Democrats touted inclusion and support from a diverse coalition – including LGBTQ voters and community leaders – as early voting opened this week in two runoff races that could flip control of the U.S. Senate. 

The state party is promoting Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock as a coordinated campaign in a “first-of-its-kind” effort. They hope to build a progressive coalition that includes LGBTQ voters, people of color, faith leaders, women and veterans to help defeat U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue on Jan. 5.

Those wins would flip control of the U.S. Senate to Democrats and could pave the way for LGBTQ-inclusive legislation including the Equality Act. The measure, which passed the House in 2019, would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ossoff and Warnock support the legislation while Loeffler and Perdue oppose LGBTQ equality efforts.

“The LGBTQ+ community showed up in force this November to demand change and helped move Georgia forward. In order to make progress and pass legislation like the Equality Act to protect our community from discrimination, we need to elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock,” state Rep. Sam Park, one of seven LGBTQ lawmakers in Georgia, said in a press release.

“America needs allies in the Senate who promote love and equality, not hate and division, and who will help Joe Biden pass meaningful legislation to protect all Americans,” Park added. 

The full-court press from the coalition of diverse leaders and activists is part of a strategy from Georgia Democrats to engage the same voters that turned out in record numbers ahead of the November election. The effort was detailed in a two-page memo from Jonae Wartel, runoff director of the coordinated campaign, released on Dec. 8 and first reported by the AJC.

“The coordinated campaign has quickly developed a robust coalitions program aimed at engaging voters and community leaders across the state, including the Latino, AAPI, and African American communities; faith leaders, veterans and military families, and labor leaders; as well as youth, LGBTQ, woman, progressive, and Jewish groups in Georgians,” Wartel wrote in the memo.

“The campaign is working hand in hand with coalitions leaders to help reach voters and new and creative ways, and working with community leaders to target programming and messaging to persuade more voters to turn out and vote early in this election,” she added.

Georgia Democrats are reaching out to voters with in-person canvassing and phone banks to inform them about the campaign, early voting, mail-in ballots and voting safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With a narrow window of time in one of the busiest months of the year, the Runoff Coordinated Campaign has one goal: turning out as many voters as we can to vote early, whether early in-person or with mail-in ballots,” Wartel wrote.

This story is made possible by a grant from the Election SOS Rapid Response Fund.

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