Project Q: “Cathy Woolard gets big LGBT endorsement in mayor’s race”

By Matt Hennie

Cathy Woolard – the first openly gay elected official in the state who is now running for Atlanta mayor – was endorsed by Georgia Equality, a nod to her decades of work advocating for LGBT and other social justice issues.

Georgia Equality announced its endorsement Tuesday.

Electing Cathy Woolard as Mayor of Atlanta, would be a game changer for LGBT Atlantans and Georgians in a way that the election of any other candidate for mayor would not. Having Cathy as mayor will ensure that one of the most important leaders in Georgia politics is an out lesbian with a 30 year history of working directly on LGBT issues and will amplify the voices, needs, and issues that affect the 350,000 LGBTQ Georgians.

Woolard is one of two LGBT candidates running for mayor in a field crowded with LGBT-friendly candidates, several of whom speak out on LGBT issues and appear at gay events. Georgia Equality acknowledged that in its endorsement of Woolard.

In issuing this endorsement, it is also important that we recognize that Georgia Equality has previously endorsed and worked with most of the serious candidates in this race. We cannot understate the good work many of them have done on behalf of Atlanta’s LGBT community and we look forward to working with them as they continue their public careers.

Woolard said the endorsement is a testament to her decades of work advocating on behalf of LGBT issues – something she said she would continue as mayor.

“I have been advocating for our LGBT rights since the 1980s. I’m not someone who just shows up when it’s easy or to take a pretty picture,” Woolard said in a prepared statement.

“As a lesbian, the fight for fairness and equality is personal, and I will continue to advocate for the rights of every marginalized person. As mayor, I will use my position to push for full civil rights at the state, regional, and national level,” she added.

Woolard has notched strong fundraising totals, but remains deep in the pack in recent polls of candidates. An 11 Alive poll put Woolard in seventh place.

Woolard became the first openly gay elected official in Georgia when she unseated a longtime incumbent on the Atlanta City Council in 1997. She went on to become the first woman and openly gay City Council President in 2002.

The full statement from Georgia Equality:

Cathy has a long history of advocating for and enacting LGBT inclusive policies in Atlanta and around Georgia, including fighting for domestic partner benefits and marriage rights, parental rights and the state’s only comprehensive human rights municipal ordinance that passed in 1999. She has shown a serious commitment to issues such as affordable housing, equity and inclusion, and addressing HIV policy that helps to secure the lived equality that matters most to the LGBT community in Georgia. Cathy has also worked hard for other social justice issues in Atlanta including her work with CARE, League of Conservation Voters and Planned Parenthood.

“Cathy Woolard has spent much of her life leading the fight for LGBT equality around the country and in Georgia, going back to the 1980s,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality. “The progress we enjoy today really rests on the shoulders of champions like Cathy. LGBT people would not have civil rights protections in Atlanta if it weren’t for her. We couldn’t have defeated all of the anti-gay legislation in the Capitol in recent years if it weren’t for Cathy. She has been, and continues to be, a remarkable leader for our community.”

In issuing this endorsement, it is also important that we recognize that Georgia Equality has previously endorsed and worked with most of the serious candidates in this race. We cannot understate the good work many of them have done on behalf of Atlanta’s LGBT community and we look forward to working with them as they continue their public careers.

Electing Cathy Woolard as Mayor of Atlanta, would be a game changer for LGBT Atlantans and Georgians in a way that the election of any other candidate for mayor would not. Having Cathy as mayor will ensure that one of the most important leaders in Georgia politics is an out lesbian with a 30 year history of working directly on LGBT issues and will amplify the voices, needs, and issues that affect the 350,000 LGBTQ Georgians.

UPDATE | HRC also endorsed Woolard in a statement issued Aug. 3.

HRC announced the Public Policy Committee of HRC’s Board of Directors has voted to endorse Cathy Woolard for Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, in the non-partisan election this November 2017.

“Cathy Woolard’s life-long record fighting for LGBTQ equality makes her the clear choice for fair-minded Atlantans this November,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “With a proven record as a champion for equality, Cathy Woolard has the vision, passion, and commitment to continue moving Atlanta forward as a welcoming and inclusive city. We are proud to endorse Cathy Woolard in her bid to become the next mayor of Atlanta.”

“I am proud to receive HRC’s endorsement,” said Cathy Woolard. “I was on staff at HRC and know how important the work HRC does and continues to do, as the largest organization advancing LGBTQ equality. As Atlanta City Council President, I led the passage of what is still Georgia’s only comprehensive civil rights bill , which includes sexual orientation and gender identity. As the next mayor of Atlanta, I will speak out and fight for fairness and equality whenever I can.”

Cathy Woolard has spent her whole life breaking barriers and standing up for the LGBTQ community. She is the first openly LGBTQ elected official in the state of Georgia and the first openly LGBTQ City Council President in the United States. Cathy personally led the Atlanta City Council to pass what is still the only comprehensive civil rights bill in the state of Georgia that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the private sector. While a city council member, she successfully sponsored legislation to add gender identity to Atlanta’s non-discrimination policy for city employees. Cathy has also worked tirelessly to stop multiple attempts to pass dangerous, anti-LGBTQ “license to discriminate” bills.