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Georgia Elects
First Openly Gay Republican to Office

Georgia Elects
First Openly Gay Republican to Office

Brian Bates, a 36-year-old business owner in Doraville, Ga., is that state's first openly gay Republican elected to office and possibly the first in the Deep South.

Brian Bates, a 36-year-old business owner in Doraville, Ga., is that state's first openly gay Republican elected to office and possibly the first in the Deep South.

There are nine openly gay officials in Georgia, but Bates is the first Republican.

According to a report in TheAtlanta Journal-Constitution, Bates won a spot on the Doraville city council with close to 58% of the vote after losing a previous try.

Bates is active in his neighborhood association and has been a staunch supporter of Doraville police chief John King. Bates has lived in Doraville for almost seven years and credits his support for Chief King and his high level of community involvement as the keys to his victory.

"I am gay and there's no reason to hide it," Bates said to the Journal-Constitution. "I made the conscious decision to be open and honest about my orientation. It really didn't come up with my conversations with voters, and for the most part, I don't think they care. It was not a campaign issue. There is not a gay agenda. It wasn't an issue."

Bates is a longtime member of Georgia's chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans and considers himself fiscally conservative and socially moderate. He has said that he disagrees with how the Republican Party has handled gay issues but has withheld further discussion about specifics.

"I don't think it's responsible to attack individuals," Bates said. "The Republican Party has been a party of freedom and acceptance, and they need to stick to the policies that work, and that's about being fiscally responsible."

State representative Jill Chambers, a Republican representing Atlanta and whose district also includes Doraville, said she was thrilled about Bates's victory. She also said she welcomes a debate about the Republican Party's positions on gay issues but does not think that his sexuality will be a political issue in Doraville.

"I don't think his sexuality is going to play a role on city council," Chambers said to the Journal-Constitution. "But his fiscal responsibility will be greatly appreciated on a day-to-day basis. His margin of victory shows that our community in north DeKalb cares more about the person and their performance as an elected official than someone's sexuality."

Bates, who was sworn in on November 19, said he hopes that his victory will inspire others to run for office. "I was elected to represent the residents of Doraville, and look forward to doing it with honor. And if it provides other opportunities for other candidates or encourages other individuals to run, I certainly encourage them to do so." (The Advocate)

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