Police called on queer Georgia legislator after Handel questions
At the tail end of the race to become Georgia’s 6th District Congressional representative, former Secretary of State Karen Handel appeared to double down on her much publicized 2010 comments on gay adoption. Handel told both a Reporter Newspapers writer and the mother of a LGBT child that her “faith calls me to a very different place on these issues.”
Both exchanges took place during a campaign stop at Wright’s Gourment Sandwich Shop in Dunwoody in mid-June, days before the special election. Former Georgia Voice editor and current Reporter Newspapers writer Dyana Bagby spoke with Handel on a number of issues.
“What I have always believed is that what has to be paramount is what is the best interest of the child,” Handel told Bagby. “The best interest of the child. Period, end of paragraph. That’s not for you to decide. That’s not for me to decide. It’s for the child advocates to decide, whether that be the court or the child’s guardian.”
The mother who later approached Handel asked her what protections she would have should she choose to adopt in the future.
According to video taken by a Democratic tracker and obtained by Georgia Voice, Handel responded with, “My faith also calls me to be compassionate, and so I always try to do that. I don’t — I’m not aware of anything in the law that, right now, that I’m aware of, that is gonna be impactful from a discriminatory standpoint against your daughter.”
Handel’s comments come after the spotlight grew on her 2010 comments, which were made during a run for state governor. 11Alive reporter Doug Richards questioned her gay rights views, and Handel said she was against same-sex marriage and would consider legislation outlawing gay adoption, saying a home with gay parents “is not the best household for a child.” According to Rewire, local area radio station WABE called the police on openly queer Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) after she tried to speak with 6th Congressional District candidate Karen Handel following a public debate on June 8.
“After the debate was over, as an elected official, I wanted to do a little diplomatic work,” Cannon told Democratic supporters at a LGBT families event for candidate Jon Ossoff the next day. “I said to [Handel], ‘You did a good job. And if you’re elected, I want to work with you. But I want to work with you on a specific issue, and that has to do with gay marriage and gay adoption. I have seen what you’ve been saying in the media, and as a gay person, I want to leverage what I have on the ground here in Georgia to help you.’ She literally turned her head and walked away.”
As Cannon left the debate space, she was approached by a WABE staff member, who questioned her about speaking to Handel. The staffer then called a police officer, who called for backup, before letting the legislator leave.
Hilary Silverboard, the vice president of marketing and business strategy for WABE parent company Public Broadcasting Atlanta, issued a statement after the incident, saying WABE was to provide security for candidates while on the studio premises, and escorting Handel to the door away from audience members was honoring security protocol.