Georgia’s gay legislators hope that their growth in numbers will help improve their causes

State Representative-elect Sam Park, the fourth openly gay lawmaker in the Georgia General Assembly, will join Park Cannon, Karla Drenner and Keisha Waites in the state’s unofficial gay caucus next year. Park won his seat in November, upsetting three-term Republican incumbent Valerie Clark. The first openly gay man elected to serve as a state legislator in Georgia, Park follows a string of gay women to the General Assembly. Although gay legislators are in the minority in Georgia’s Republican-led General Assembly, advocates believe that the presence of such a significant group of gay legislators are important in the conservative southern state.

“Adding our voices to the mix is critical,” said Drenner, who was elected in 2000 and was for many years was the only openly gay lawmaker in Georgia. Park’s platform included a vow to fight religious liberty legislation and anything he felt would harm the state’s LGBT+ community. He is mindful, however, that other issues are important to his constituents, too. “People didn’t vote for me just because I’m openly gay,” said Park. As the son of Korean immigrants, he will also be the only Asian-American representative in the General Assembly next year. “People didn’t vote for me just because I’m Asian. I couldn’t be more proud to represent the people in my community.”

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