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Georgia Elects Nation’s First Openly Lesbian African-American State Lawmaker

atlantaGeorgia voters on Tuesday made history and elected Simone Bell to the state’s House of Representatives, making her the nation’s first openly lesbian African-American state lawmaker.  Bell, who won the run-off election against Asha Jackson, will become the second LGBT congressperson in Georgia’s legislature, following Representative Karla Drenner also of Atlanta, according to the Victory Fund, a PAC that helps fund political campaigns of lesbian and gay candidates.

In an interview with EDGE, Chuck Wolfe, president and chief executive officer of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said: “For more than 20 years, Simone has worked as an activist and advocate in Atlanta and across the south,” reported the Victory Fund, which endorsed Bell. “"This is a tremendous victory for LGBT Georgians," he said. "Simone is a longtime leader in her community, and she will be a huge asset in the Georgia State House."

According to the Associated Press: With all precincts reporting, Bell received 56 percent of the vote to Jackson's 44 percent.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality issued a statement saying: “We are so proud of Simone Bell's accomplishment.  Even with all the odds stacked against her, she rolled up her sleeves and did the work of reaching out to voters in her district through an impressive grassroots effort.  Having known and worked with Simone for over a decade, I know that she will be the sort of leader who will make all of Georgia proud.”

In an interview with The Sidney Morning Herald, Graham said: "I cannot recall a mayor's race when there's been so much attention placed on the gay and lesbian vote."

“What is perhaps one of the most exciting outcomes of these campaigns is the fact that so many new LGBT activists of color, especially transgender individuals, became so involved in the canvassing, phonebanking and organizing that is needed for electoral victories such as these.  Engaging and enabling new segments of our community to be involved in this work gives us all great hope for the future of our efforts to advance fairness, equality and safety for our community in the years to come.”

Atlanta voters also elected Alex Wan to its city council, making him the first Asian American and first openly gay man to hold that post.