Jon Ossoff made a powerful pitch to LGBTQ supporters on Wednesday, pledging to vote for the Equality Act, defend marriage equality and adoption rights, and fight for transgender troops to serve openly in the military.
Ossoff’s closing argument to a crowd of LGBTQ and progressive voters took place during an outdoor appearance at My Sister’s Room, the lesbian bar in Midtown. It came less than two weeks before the final day of voting in the U.S. Senate runoffs on Jan. 5.
“On day one as your senator, I will be ready to vote to pass the Equality Act to amend the Civil Rights Act to ensure that gender and sexual orientation are protected classes in this country,” Ossoff said.
“I will defend marriage equality. I will defend adoption rights. I will defend the right of American patriots to serve openly in our armed forces, no matter who they are, whom they love, and how they choose to live their lives. I will be an ally for the LGBTQ community here in Georgia. I will defend you. I will defend our LGBTQ brothers and sisters with everything that I’ve got,” he added.
Ossoff also said he would address bullying in schools by fighting to fund programs that combat it.
“These anti-bullying programs are so important. The trauma that young people experience being targeted, being subjected to violence, being ostracized – especially trans youth – is shocking and unacceptable and unnecessary,” he said.
Ossoff, a Democrat, is locked in a tight race to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue. The race – one of two Senate runoffs in Georgia – pits a challenger who embraces LGBTQ equality against an incumbent who opposes it.
“I want to urge you to work these next two weeks. Look, not for the sake of my ambition, not for the glory of a political party, but because of the real human consequences of elections. There’s so much good that we can do,” he said.
Ossoff said he’d return to My Sister’s Room to talk with LGBTQ voters – a jab at Perdue, who has refused to debate Ossoff in the runoff nor hold town halls as an elected official.
“I look forward to coming right back here in just a few weeks when I represent you in the U.S. Senate to answer your questions, and we’ll make a habit of it,” Ossoff said.
‘He will fight for us in all the spaces we exist’
Ossoff was joined at the meet-and-greet by the bar’s co-owner, Jennifer Maguire; state Rep.-elect Marvin Lim; Malik Brown, Atlanta’s LGBTQ affairs director; and comedian Kia Barnes.
Maguire, who owns My Sister’s Room with her wife Jami, said the importance of the runoff convinced them to host the event for Ossoff. She met Ossoff during the Equality March in 2017 as Ossoff was running for a U.S. House seat and forcefully spoke in favor of LGBTQ issues.
“One of the reasons why we support Jon Ossoff is because he will fight for all Americans, not just some. That’s important,” Maguire said. “Our community has deeply been affected when it comes to addressing the surge in violence against our transgender family – specifically Black, brown and Latino transgender women. Yes, Black trans lives matter.”
Lim, who will become one of seven LGBTQ lawmakers at the State Capitol in January, said Ossoff will fight for LGBTQ equality in healthcare and push for federal policies “that are backed by science.” He also advocated for Ossoff to help reverse the Food & Drug Administration’s restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men.
“Not only will he fight for science, but he will fight for us in all the spaces we exist and have every right to exist, whether that is the workplace, the military, schools, public accommodations. Yes, we’ve come far, but we have so much further to go,” Lim said.
Barnes urged the crowd to support Ossoff so the Equality Act gets a vote in the U.S. Senate. The House approved the legislation in 2019.
“Let’s throw our support behind those who support us,” Barnes said. “It’s so important that we realize and harness the strength of our voices and our votes to fight for our own rights, especially in a place like Atlanta, Georgia – the black gay mecca of the South.”
Barnes was recently named to the list of the Most Influential LGBTQ+ Georgians from the Out Georgia Business Alliance and serves on the LGBTQ Advisory Council for Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Brown urged the crowd to vote for Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who is running against U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the other Senate runoff on Jan. 5. Their elections would shift control of the Senate to Democrats. Brown is one of several LGBTQ people working in Warnock’s campaign.
“Georgia has the chance to flip the Senate,” Brown said. “It’s been a long four years for all of us, and we just need to elect Rev. Raphael Warnock and my friend Jon Ossoff so we can finish the deal.”
This story is made possible by a grant from the Election SOS Rapid Response Fund.