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Why every LGBT+ person needs to thank Stacey Abrams as Georgia ushers in a new dawn of progress

Reiss Smith January 6, 2021
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Close-up of Stacey Abrams speaking. A black face mask with 'VOTE' in bold white text is hanging from one ear.

This is a Stacey Abrams appreciation post. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty)

Stacey Abrams is rightly being given her flowers after the Democrats won at least one – and possibly two – Senate seats in the Georgia run-offs.

Raphael Warnock is projected to win the first off two Georgia Senate run-offs, unseating the anti-LGBT+ republican Kelly Loeffler.

The Associated Press called the election for the Democrat, a proud LGBT+ ally, with 98 per cent of votes counted. The count for a second election in the state is ongoing, but Democrats are hopeful they’ll be able to swing the state completely blue and thereby take control of the US Senate. This will be crucial if Joe Biden is to set about enacting his agenda, including his pledge to finally make law the Equality Act which will transform LGBT+ rights.

Regardless of the final outcome, the result is another feather in the cap of Stacey Abrams, the voting rights advocate, ally and organiser responsible for transforming Georgia politics – and with it, the fate of a nation.

Who is Stacey Abrams?

Democrat Stacey Abrams became the first Black woman to run for state governor on a major party ticket in Georgia’s 2018 election, and lost.

In her acknowledgement speech, she accused her Republican opponent, then-Georgia secretary of state Brian Kemp, of voter suppression after his office cancelled more than one million voter registrations (including 670,000 in 2017 alone), citing “inactivity” or errors.

Associated Press analysis of votes that were at the time on hold with Kemp’s office revealed that 70 per cent were Black; just 32 per cent of Georgia’s population is Black.

Abrams, who had previously been a Georgia House minority leader, refused to concede the loss, of a narrow 55,000 vote margin, and instead announced the launch of a new drive to combat disenfranchisement.

Two years on, Abrams and her organisation were credited with adding 800,000 Georgians to the state’s voter roll ahead of the 2020 presidential election. These efforts were to prove crucial in handing Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes to Joe Biden – the first time the state had voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in almost 30 years.

Now, she is being thanked once again for her efforts, which have undoubtedly contributed to – perhaps crucially so – Warnock’s victory, and potentially that of his fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Looking ahead, many have floated the idea that Abrams be handed a formal role in ensuring a (likely) Kamala Harris victory in 2024 as chair of the Democratic National Convention.

If Ossoff wins the second Georgia run-off, the Senate will be split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. As president of the senate, Kamala Harris would then take the deciding vote, effectively giving the Democrats a majority.

At the very least, LGBT+ Americans can celebrate the defeat of Kelly Loeffler, the multi-millionaire (soon-to-be-former) senator who in September 2020 attempted to erase transgender kids from the law and ban them from takin part in school sports.

Loeffler has also donated thousands to an anti-LGBT+ adoption agency, as well as seven anti-abortion pregnancy centres.

Looking ahead, many have floated the idea that Abrams be handed a formal role in ensuring Democratic victory in 2024.

 

 

 

Related topics: Georgia, stacey abrams

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