LGBT ally Ben­nett pulls off up­set in Ge­or­gia House race

GA Voice - - Newsbriefs -

Jurors re­turned a guilty ver­dict on Aug. 11 against a man charged with killing a metro At­lanta teenager for “mak­ing a pass” at him. Mar­qua­vyian Gude, 19, was con­victed on charges of mur­der, felony mur­der, ag­gra­vated as­sault, armed rob­bery, theft by tak­ing and weapons of­fenses in con­nec­tion with the shoot­ing death of 17-year-old Devon­tavius McClain of Grif­fin, Ge­or­gia.

McClain was last seen alive on April 20, 2013 when he left home to meet Gude in At­lanta. His de­com­posed body was found two months later, stuffed in­side the trunk of his own ve­hi­cle which was aban­doned in North­west At­lanta.

Cell phone records linked Gude to Mc- Clain, and Gude was also seen driv­ing McClain’s ve­hi­cle shortly af­ter the mur­der and us­ing his debit card. The de­fen­dant tried to use the “gay panic” de­fense ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease is­sued Aug. 12 by Ful­ton County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Paul Howard.

“Gude con­fessed to mur­der­ing McClain, but claimed it was in self-de­fense be­cause the vic­tim made a pass at him,” the press re­lease stated. “Ac­cord­ing to De­fen­dant Gude, he met the vic­tim online and be­lieved he was meet­ing a fe­male, not a male. Gude could not ex­plain why, in­stead of leav­ing, he chose to ride around with the vic­tim for sev­eral hours be­fore killing him.”

Gude was sen­tenced to life plus five years in prison.

Tay­lor Ben­nett, the 29-year-old po­lit­i­cal new­comer, pulled off a sur­prise win in House Dis­trict 80 on Aug. 11, best­ing for­mer Brookhaven mayor J. Max Davis in a runoff. Ben­nett, a Demo­crat and for­mer quar­ter­back for Ge­or­gia Tech, beat the Repub­li­can 55 per­cent to 45 per­cent with 100 per­cent of precincts re­port­ing.

The win was even more sur­pris­ing be- cause the GOP es­tab­lish­ment put ma­jor mus­cle be­hind Davis, with Gover­nor Nathan Deal and Con­gress­man Tom Price en­dors­ing and cam­paign­ing for him. Two rea­sons? A Ben­nett win would mean con­trol of the Ful­ton County del­e­ga­tion would flip to the Democrats and it would leave the GOP one rep­re­sen­ta­tive short of its cur­rent su­per­ma­jor­ity in the House.

Ben­nett made his op­po­si­tion to the so­called “re­li­gious free­dom” bill the cen­ter­piece of his cam­paign. Many be­lieve the bill will lead to more LGBT dis­crim­i­na­tion. His op­po­si­tion stems not just from his be­ing an em­ploy­ment lawyer but from the fact that his mother and sis­ter are gay.

“As a la­bor and em­ploy­ment at­tor­ney and ob­vi­ously my per­sonal con­nec­tion to the is­sue, watch­ing the Ge­or­gia leg­is­la­ture lit­er­ally try to fig­ure out ways to dis­crim­i­nate, es­pe­cially to the LGBT com­mu­nity, I didn’t want to sit by and just watch this un­fold in front of me,” Ben­nett told Ge­or­gia Voice in an in­ter­view lead­ing up to the elec­tion. “I’m think­ing, is my mom go­ing to be able to come to Ge­or­gia and have lunch with her son and have to face dis­crim­i­na­tion to come see me? That was some­thing that got at me pretty deep.”

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