LGBT+ campaigners have revealed the track records of the two Republican Senators whose re-election race in Georgia holds unique national importance.
The runoff elections are taking place because the general election in November was too close to call for Georgia’s two seats in the US Senate.
If the Democrats win both seats, they will control the Senate. That will make it far easier for President-elect Joe Biden to advance his policies after he takes power in January.
But if the two Republicans – Senator Kelly Loeffler and Senator David Perdue – win their reelection bids, then their party will hold control, allowing them to block Biden and the Democrats.
However, there’s also another issue at stake, LGBT+ charity GLAAD and Georgia Equality warn.
They have highlighted Loeffler and Perdue’s homophobic track records. And they hope their warnings about the pair will mobilize Georgia’s LGBT+ voters who could be key to unlocking Democratic victories in the two races.
GLAAD and Georgia Equality said:
‘In her brief Senate tenure, Senator Loeffler has hired anti-LGBTQ staff, donated to anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion groups, sponsored anti-LGBTQ legislation and endorsed candidates who support the violent and anti-LGBTQ conspiracy movement QAnon.
‘Senator Loeffler donated $3,800 to a Georgia-based foster care agency that explicitly rejects qualified same-sex couples and compares being LGBTQ to illegal and vile behavior.
‘Senator Perdue has campaigned against marriage equality. He has been repeatedly investigated for profiting from stock trades after learning classified information about the coronavirus, and trading on companies his committees have oversight on.’
Loeffler and Perdue in action
Loeffler also introduced a bill in the Senate to try to prevent transgender athletes from taking part in sport with other people who share their true gender.
The bill could even have forced trans students to have invasive screenings of their genitals.
Loeffler defended the bill in a video from the anti-LGBT+ group, Family Policy Alliance, by saying: ‘I support “girls’ only” sports.’
Meanwhile the homophobic Family Research Council Action and Family Policy Alliance rate Perdue at 100% for his voting record in the Senate.
Like Loeffler, he voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court. His vote came after it emerged that Barrett had served as a trustee at a school that discriminated against LGBT+ families and teachers.
Moreover, Perdue and Loeffler also vocally and financially support fellow Georgia Republican, Representative-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Greene has spread false, dangerous and anti-LGBT+ messages from the QAnon a conspiracy theory movement. And both Georgia Equality and the Southern Poverty Law Center have expressed concern about her homphobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic and racist beliefs.
The power of Georgia’s LGBT+ voters
Campaigners estimate there are around 356,000 LGBT+ adults in Georgia, of whom 313,280 are registered to vote.
A post-election poll for GLAAD found that 93% of LGBT+ people voted in the 2020 election with a quarter of those voting for the first time.
Moreover, the research indicated that 81% of the LGBT+ vote went to Biden in the 3 November election.
Mobilizing those numbers again could make a big difference to the Democrats in Georgia when the special election is decided on 5 January.
And the campaign to get out the vote comes against a background where LGBT+ people continue to face discrimination and violence in Georgia and other southern US states.
GLAAD says one in three LGBT+ Americans live in the South, in states without comprehensive protections against discrimination.
In Georgia, 12 municipalities have passed protections, but another 523 municipalities across the state have not, leaving LGBT+ people at risk.
Meanwhile Felycya Harris – who died in Augusta, Georgia, in October – is one of the 40 confirmed transgender killings in the US so far this year. Neither Loeffler or Perdue have commented on her death.