Park Cannon wins Georgia House District 58 in runoff
Following the resignation of Rep. Simone Bell in November 2015, there was concern about the falling number of LGBT voices in the state Legislature. But the community could rest a little easier after January’s special election to fill the seat. Park Cannon, who identifies as queer, beat former state Rep. Ralph Long III in a runoff.
Following the election, Cannon was invited to speak in July at the Democratic National Convention, where she announced, “I’m Park Cannon. I am a woman. I’m African-American. I’m queer. And I am the newest member of the Georgia House of Representatives.”
Gov. Deal vetoes anti-LGBT HB 757
Georgia’s conservative lawmakers introduced and passed the anti-LGBT House Bill 757 in mid-March, a move the Human Rights Campaign called “shocking.” The bill had provisions saying no pastor could be forced to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony and allowed faith-based organizations to discriminate against groups or employees that “violate such faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.” Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the bill. “I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” Deal said in his veto remarks.
Georgia Department of Corrections under investigation
In April, Georgia Voice broke the story that the US Department of Justice and the US Attorney’s Office opened an investigation into how the Georgia Department of Corrections treats LGBT prisoners.
“We’re looking at potential violations of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), which deals with the constitutional Elation over Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of HB 757 in March was followed by mourning over June’s Pulse massacre. (File photo) rights of prisoners in institutions like prisons,” said John Horn, US attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. “What we can say is that we have received some complaints relating to allegations of abuse in Georgia prisons.”
One of the high-profile cases related to the investigation is that of transgender woman Ashley Diamond, a Rome, Georgia, resident who alleged mistreatment, sexual abuse and denial of medical treatment. The Justice Department said this is the first investigation it’s ever conducted that is focused on LGBT prisoners.
Mourning with Orlando
Atlanta’s LGBT and allied communities came out in force to mourn the loss of 49 lives and support the 53 injured in a June 12 domestic terror attack against Pulse nightclub, a LGBT mainstay in Orlando, Florida. In the days and weeks after, Atlantans organized a plethora of vigils and fundraisers, and there was an increased interest in active shooter survival training from the Atlanta Police Department.
“I am heartbroken, angry and determined to fight against any senseless acts of violence and hate, especially when it targets a strong and loving community,” lesbian Georgia House Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) said following the attack. “Terrorism, gun violence and homophobia have no place in our society. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with