History is made in Georgia. Simone Bell becomes the first openly lesbian black state legislator in U.S. history.
Bell won Tuesday's runoff election to represent Georgia State House District 58, which is eastern Atlanta in DeKalb and Fulton Counties. She becomes the second openly LGBT member of the Georgia State House, joining Rep. Karla Drenner. Both are from the Atlanta area.
Atlanta voters also elected Alex Wan, the city’s first gay man, and first Asian-American, to the city council.
The election of a black lesbian legislator in a conservative state that passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2006 is quite significant. "This is a tremendous victory for LGBT Georgians. Simone is a longtime leader in her community, and she will be a huge asset in the Georgia State House,” says Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which supported Bell's campaign.
For two decades, Bell has worked as a progressive activist and community organizer in Atlanta and across the South. Bell says her top priorities are education and transportation. On LGBT issues, Bell says: "We don’t have a lot of votes in the state legislature to do any progressive work, but in terms of being on the offense, I plan to work with the movable middle to work on making Georgia a better place." The newly-elected legislator adds: "And I will fight hard against any legislation to take rights away from us on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Bravo and congratulations to Simone Bell.