GA GOP Candidate Karen Handel Attacks LGBTQ Adoption Rights

Karen Handel

On the day before the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, the Republican party’s efforts to elect Karen Handel are taking on new life from using Obama’s voice out of context to attack Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff to using the shooting in Arlington to demonize all Democrats as violent and dangerous.

Adding to that hyperbolic campaigning is a fundamental policy position Karen Handel gladly offered while employing an often-used phrase promoting her personal religious beliefs. When asked by a mother fearing for her lesbian daughter’s right to begin a family what her positions are on LGBTQ rights, Karen Handel used her personal religious beliefs to argue against LGBTQ people being able to legally adopt children.

“What protections do I have for her having a family in the future, being able to adopt and have kids?” the mother asked during a meet-and-greet at Wright’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop in Dunwoody, GA last week.

“I have to be honest,” Handel began. “My faith calls me to a different place on the issue.”

From there, Handel segued into a routine she’s used on several issues where she cites personal religious belief as her rationalization for discrimination.

Placing her hand on her heart, Handel added her faith “also calls me to be compassionate, and so I always try to do that.” She added, “I’m not aware of anything in the law, right now, that I’m aware of, that’s going to be impactful, from a discriminatory standpoint, against your daughter.”

When the mother tried to bring up pertinent issues that do pose a distinct threat to LGBTQ rights – mainly, Vice President Mike Pence’s stated preference to discriminate – Handel cut the mother off saying “the issue’s been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

As if to signal she would no longer entertain the discussion, Handel stood up, said “I hear ya,” and shrugged her shoulders – all while the mother was trying to plead for the candidate to listen to her worries.

Handel followed up on those statements by commenting to the Georgia Voice that “faith calls me to a very different place on these issues.” The Georgia Voice added:

“My faith at the same time calls me to be compassionate and what I have always believed is that what has to be paramount is what is the best interest of the child,” she said.

Asked to explain further, she said, “The best interest of the child. Period, end of paragraph. That’s not for you to decide. That’s not for me to decide. It’s for the child advocates to decide, whether that be the court or the child’s guardian. The child’s best interest must be paramount.”

Her anti-gay comments follow an incident with an openly-LGBTQ politician last week:

Thursday’s comments come after a growing spotlight on Handel’s 2010 comments as the days dwindle to election day on Tuesday. State Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta), who identifies as queer, said she tried to address Handel on the issue after a June 8 debate with her Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff. After offering to work with Handel on gay marriage and gay adoption, Cannon said Handel turned and walked away without responding. Handel has also refused numerous interview requests from Georgia Voice throughout the campaign.

Those notorious comments on gay marriage and gay adoption came during Handel’s run for Georgia governor, when 11Alive reporter Doug Richards questioned Handel on her LGBT rights views. Handel said she was against gay marriage and that she would consider legislation outlawing gay adoption, saying a home with gay parents “is not the best household for a child.”

You can watch the exchange here:


Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he’s worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. You can learn more about him at his personal website.


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