At­lanta may­oral can­di­dates vie for LGBT vote as runoff nears

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“I didn’t want the true di­ver­sity of this city to … be some­thing [my son] en­coun­tered one day. I wanted it to be some­thing that he lived each and ev­ery day so he could grow up with a re­spect for what di­ver­sity truly is,” Bot­toms said dur­ing the MSR event. “I ask that if you see fit to sup­port me as mayor that you see fit to be a true part­ner with me, mean­ing cor­rect me when I’m wrong; ed­u­cate me in the ar­eas I’m ig­no­rant of.”

Bot­toms said she wants her com­mit­ment to At­lanta’s di­ver­sity to be ev­i­dent by en­sur­ing the LGBT com­mu­nity and other mi­nori­ties have a seat at the ta­ble.

“That’s some­thing I say to you as we talk about our LGBT com­mu­nity, it shouldn’t be some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary. It should be a way of life for the city,” she said.

Bot­toms did not re­spond back to Ge­or­gia Voice’s ques­tions by press time.

Nor­wood said she wants to en­sure At- lanta is do­ing all it can to fight “the AIDS cri­sis,” in­clud­ing work­ing more closely with Ful­ton County and en­sur­ing At­lantans have ac­cess to pre-ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis, or PrEP. Other top is­sues for her are pro­tect­ing the LGBT com­mu­nity from so-called “re­li­gious free­dom” bills and fac­ing the prob­lem of home­less­ness for LGBT youth head-on.

“I have said that I am go­ing to have ad­vi­sory coun­cils for ma­jor is­sues in town,” she said. “I be­lieve the peo­ple who are in­volved ev­ery day are the peo­ple who can help us craft, ei­ther leg­isla­tively or through city ac­tion, the best so­lu­tions. I will be mak­ing sure that there is a li­ai­son, an ad­vi­sory coun­cil to ad­dress how we deal with home­less­ness in gen­eral and LGBT youth specif­i­cally.”

Party pol­i­tics in a non­par­ti­san elec­tion

Though the At­lanta may­oral race is, in the­ory, non­par­ti­san, can­di­dates across the board made it clear to vot­ers that all were Democrats, ex­cept for Nor­wood, who is run­ning as an In­de­pen­dent. She has straight and LGBT peo­ple on her cam­paign staff, some of whom vote Repub­li­can and are staunch sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, whose record on LGBT is­sues has been un­der crit­i­cism since Elec­tion Day 2016.

That hasn’t sat well with some Democrats, in­clud­ing the Demo­cratic Party of Ge­or­gia, which en­dorsed Bot­toms in the race.

“Just look­ing at her plat­form and see­ing over the last cou­ple of months and dozens of fo­rums, she is ob­vi­ously the only can­di­date in this runoff that shares the val­ues and pri­or­i­ties for the city of At­lanta,” said Michael Smith, the out com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for Ge­or­gia Democrats. “[Bot­toms] has al­ways been an ally. … She talked about openly hav­ing dis­cus­sions with her sons about LGBTQ is­sues, about how to treat peo­ple with the same re­spect as you would like to be treated and make sure that they are. It’s just ob­vi­ous she has the val­ues that def­i­nitely line up with ours.”

The party even launched ads against Nor­wood that point out her heavy Repub­li­can ties.

“It be­ing a non­par­ti­san race is just a tech­ni­cal­ity with the law,” Smith said. “To be hon­est with our­selves, ev­ery race is a po­lit­i­cal race, and it does have to do with spe­cific party pol­i­tics as well. We’ve had a Demo­cratic mayor for At­lanta since 1881 and it is in­cum­bent upon us to make sure that that tra­di­tion con­tin­ues.”

Nor­wood told Ge­or­gia Voice those claims against her were “patently un­true,” cit­ing her record of con­sis­tently show­ing up for the LGBT com­mu­nity. She was the first of the can­di­dates to come out for mar­riage equal­ity and the first to walk on the new rain­bow cross­walks at 10th and Pied­mont ear­lier this year, and said she aims to be the uni­fy­ing can­di­date.

“If you look at my views and my leg­isla­tive record, it leans Demo­cratic,” she said. “I am pro-choice. I am 100 per­cent for all rights for ev­ery in­di­vid­ual re­gard­less of na­tion­al­ity, eth­nic back­ground or ori­en­ta­tion. And third, I voted for Hil­lary Clin­ton.”

“While the next mayor of At­lanta may not be a mem­ber of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity, she will likely not be suc­cess­ful in her bid with­out mak­ing over­tures and com­mit­ments to this com­mu­nity.”

Novem­ber 24, 2017

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