Stephe Koontz of Doraville is the only transgender elected official in Georgia right now. She won the District 3 seat on the council by just six votes last Tuesday.
Her victory came along with a string of wins for more openly transgender officials across the country — and all of these victories are worth celebrating.
Koontz, a longtime active community member, continues to focus on local work for Doraville as an elected official. She’s making strides toward her many local goals such as spurring the city’s growth while maintaining the hometown feel.
Still, Koontz recognizes the significance of her identity and what it means for people, especially those in the LGBTQ community, across Georgia.
“One of the reasons I ran is, I feel transgender youths need a role model and to be able to see that they do have a future,” she said Thursday. “I’ve been getting dozens of messages since the election from parents of trans youth who are in tears. I tear up every time I read one.”
We have to continue to fight backward beliefs on all fronts, because, unfortunately, progress is nonlinear and, oftentimes, messy.
Supporters of the anti-gay religious “freedom” legislation have been vowing to bring back the legislation after Georgia voters, the business community and Gov. Deal continue to block it year after year.
The legislation is a thinly-veiled attempt to discriminate based on religion, and it looks like Georgia is gearing up for another fight against this zombie bill that’s back from the dead again.
Earlier this year, the Georgia GOP state committee pushed all four Republican candidates running for governor to pledge to support the legislation they’re elected.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, promised to orchestrate its revival earlier this year.
“I’m coordinating with the House members and Senate members to see who’s going to introduce legislation and see where everyone is on it,” he said. “You’ll see religious freedom bills introduced in both chambers.”
In 2018 — during legislative session and in the mid-term elections — we’ll have the chance to candidates and elected officials that we won’t support anyone who supports bigotry.