LGBTQ priest wins historic race for Georgia Senate

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A Black lesbian priest from Stone Mountain made history on Tuesday, winning her campaign and becoming the first LGBTQ person ever elected to the Georgia Senate. 

Kim Jackson was one of three LGBTQ candidates who won this week, and she helped boost the total number of LGBTQ lawmakers in Georgia to seven – a record for the state.

“I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support that I’ve received from both the LGBTQ community and the larger community as a whole,” Jackson told Project Q Atlanta. “This is an exciting moment for Georgia.”

Six LGBTQ candidates ran in contested races across Georgia on Tuesday. Jackson won Senate District 41 in Stone Mountain, and Democratic incumbent state Reps. Sam Park (District 101 in Lawrenceville) and Matthew Wilson (District 80 in Brookhaven) won re-election.

Jackson easily dispatched opponent William Park Freeman, 79 percent to 21 percent. 

“I’m just incredibly grateful. I cannot underscore how thankful I am to the people of District 41 to put their trust and faith in me to do this work,” she said.

Jackson will discuss her historic win during Project Q’s live virtual event on Friday. RSVP now for Q Conversations, which begins at 11 a.m.

In a Podcast Q interview in August, Jackson discussed why she launched her first run for public office and how honored she and her wife were to be named grand marshals of the Atlanta Pride parade.

Currently, there are just three openly LGBTQ Black women state senators and 13 Black state lawmakers overall, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

‘Moving in the right direction’

In Gwinnett, Park (second photo) defeated Carol Field 62 percent to 38 percent to win a third term in the state House. He said his goal was to break 60 percent of the vote.

“I’m definitely looking forward to serving with our new LGBTQ members,” Park said. “Of course it would be great if we can get more but we’re moving in the right direction. We’ll have a better opportunity in the legislature to continue to make progress for LGBTQ communities.”

In DeKalb County, Wilson beat Alan Cole 58 percent to 42 percent to win a second term in the state House. In 2018, Wilson flipped the District 80 seat from Republican to Democrat.

Jackson and Marvin Lim are the two newest members of the expanding LGBTQ delegation at the Gold Dome. In June, Lim won the Democratic primary for the House District 99 seat in Norcross and didn’t face a Republican opponent on Tuesday. Lim talked about his first-ever run for office during a Podcast Q interview in August.

Jackson, Lim, Park and Wilson join three LGBTQ incumbents that also didn’t face opposition in the general election: State Reps. Park Cannon, Karla Drenner and Renitta Shannon. When they take office in January, Georgia will have seven LGBTQ lawmakers – the largest number in state history.

Park applauded Jackson’s win and welcomed her potential to change hearts and minds.

“As a woman of faith, her perspective, her morals, just who she is – being in the state Senate without a doubt will have a positive impact for our community,” Park said.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, also lauded the new legislators and said Jackson’s presence in the state Senate will help educate lawmakers on LGBTQ legislation.

“It is so great to have Marvin Lim and Kim Jackson joining the incumbents down there. It really speaks to how hopeful LGBTQ folks around the state should be going forward,” Graham said.

“We know we have been very good about being able to stop bad legislation in the House, but I hope with a total of seven down there that it begins to shift the conversation from rejecting the bad legislation to crafting a bipartisan majority to support the legislation the LGBTQ community needs,” he added. 

That legislation includes a statewide nondiscrimination law, a measure to make it easier for transgender people to change their gender markers on driver licenses, as well as a ban on conversion therapy, Graham said.

Graham will also take part in the Q Conversations event with Jackson on Friday. Join the discussion.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed Jackson, said she broke through a “lavender ceiling.”

“Kim shattered a lavender ceiling and is paving the way for a state government that is more representative of the people it serves,” LGBTQ Victory Fund CEO Annise Parker said in a press release.

“As an Episcopal priest, Kim can diffuse legislators who claim religion as the reason they oppose equality and will make clear that many LGBTQ people are of faith too,” she added.

Three LGBTQ candidates lose races

Two other LGBTQ Democratic candidates lost their state House races on Tuesday. Jonathan Gilreath-Harvey hoped to unseat four-term Republican incumbent state Rep. Eddie Lumsden and win the District 12 seat in Armuchee. He lost 81 percent to 19 percent. 

In St. Simons, Julie Jordan (third photo) took on state Rep. Don Hogan in a rematch of the 2018 race she lost. On Tuesday, Hogan won 57 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Jordan. 

Also, Democrat Justin Holsomback hoped to unseat Republican Bob Ellis for the District 2 seat on the Fulton County Commission. Holsomback fell short, losing 54 percent to 46 percent.

Julie Jordan photo by Russ Youngblood; Sam Park photo by Matt Hennie

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