With the eyes of the nation locked on Georgia on Jan. 5, Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both won their high-stakes runoff elections this year. Their victories follow President Joe Biden’s win in Georgia this past November, turning what was once thought a staunchly red state, blue.
Warnock and Ossoff are Georgia’s first Democratic senators since former Sen. Zell Miller retired in 2005, and will give the Democrats the Senate majority for the first time since 2010.
Both senators are self proclaimed LGBTQ advocates and were endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign as well as Georgia Voice, an LGBTQ media source for the state.
Ossoff and Warnock share a number of similar LGBTQ related goals. According to their campaign websites, both Senators are in favor of voting for the Equality Act.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the Equality Act “would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.”
If passed, the Equality Act would change the language of pre-existing civil rights legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to be inclusive of gender and sexual identities and include them as protected categories. The act would also expand the definition of public spaces and services to include retail stores and public transport to strengthen protections all around.
The Equality Act was passed by the House of Representatives on May 17, 2019, and while Biden previously promised to sign it within his first 100 days in office, recent events such as former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment threaten that timeline.
Warnock and Ossoff also campaigned on overturning the ban on transgender people from joining the military, which Biden lifted on Monday.
Similarly, Warnock seeks to support at-risk LGBTQ youth by advocating for gender inclusive policies and resources. According to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ youth make up 40% of all homeless youth, and 60% of them are likely to attempt suicide.
Ossoff is also looking to strengthen and fund anti-bullying programs for LGBTQ youth.
“These anti-bullying programs are so important. The trauma that young people experience being targeted, being subjected to violence, being ostracized — especially trans youth — is shocking and unacceptable and unnecessary,” Ossoff said to supporters at a December campaign event.