Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel – locked in a close special election for metro Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District – disagreed on most issues during a debate on Tuesday. But they agreed on this: LGBT people shouldn’t face discrimination.
Handel and Ossoff addressed the issue during a WSB debate Tuesday when reporter Richard Elliot asked them about their positions on “religious freedom” legislation. (Watch the exchange above.) The issue has consumed Georgia lawmakers and as a member of Congress, Handel and Ossoff could face a vote on a First Amendment Defense Act. LGBT advocates argue “religious freedom” measures will legalize discrimination.
Ossoff, a Democrat, said discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong.
“I oppose any legislation that permits discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation, on the basis of race or faith or national origin. I think we need to redouble our commitment to the civil rights of all Americans and I would hope that Secretary Handel would join me in making that commitment,” he said.
Handel, a Republican, hinted that legislation should weigh faith-based opposition to LGBT equality while not discriminating against LGBT people.
“I also oppose legislation that would infringe on an individual’s religious freedoms. We need to have strong, strong support for the First Amendment, while at the same time recognizing that we also don’t want to discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation,” Handel said.
When Handel launched her campaign in February, she struck a compassionate tone, though she also pointed out that her faith calls her to “a different place” on some LGBT issues. Handel has a complicated record on LGBT issues, including going on anti-gay benders during campaigns in 2010 and 2014.
Ossoff, who has backed LGBT equality issues throughout his campaign, meets with gay families on Friday. The event in Roswell is hosted by the Stonewall Caucus of the Young Democrats of Georgia. On Thursday, HRC Atlanta hosts a phone bank in Chamblee to support Ossoff’s campaign. In April, Ossoff received a hero’s welcome at the HRC Atlanta gala.