LGBT ally Bennett pulls off upset in Georgia House race
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.”