Georgia’s LGBTQ leaders are calling for Gov. Brian Kemp to reject an endorsement he received from an organization that believes their sexual and gender identities are sinful.

Frontline Policy Action, a Christian lobbying group, endorsed Kemp in May as a proven supporter of its goals. The organization lists “God’s design … for joyous marriage between one man and one woman, for sexuality, and for gender” as a key lobbying issue and has encouraged its supporters to push back against Pride month.

“I do hope that Kemp demonstrates leadership and rejects their endorsement because otherwise, it sends a message that he supports discriminating and marginalizing the LGBTQ community and other vulnerable members,” State Representative Sam Park said. Park is the first openly gay man elected to Georgia’s General Assembly.

Kemp responded positively to the organization’s endorsement, saying he was honored to have its support. He also said that he has worked closely with Frontline Policy Action on past legislation. The organization boasts that it took a lead role in passing Georgia’s so-called heartbeat bill to curb abortion rights in the state. Kemp’s campaign did not respond to The Current’s request for comment. 

Roughly 4.5% of Georgia’s population identifies as LGBTQ, according to data published in 2019 by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. That percentage represents more than 450,000 individuals.

Kemp, like many state Republican leaders, has nonetheless maintained a distant relationship with the LGBTQ community, according to Donovan Edward, a board member for Savannah’s First City Pride Center, an inclusive advocacy group focused on LGBTQ rights.

“I’ve never seen him make a show of support toward the LGBTQ community,” Edward said. “Absolutely not. It’s always quite the opposite, talking about the conservative values and what’s right for keeping Georgia the way it is.”

Georgia became the 49th state in the country to pass hate crimes legislation, a lag due in large part to a Republican-dominated legislature that for years did not want to legally equate anti-LGBTQ violence with racially motivated attacks. The state passed that law, with the support of Gov. Kemp, in 2020, in the wake of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder.

When Kemp was running for governor in 2018, he promised to pass legislation supported by Christian evangelicals to support their traditional views on marriage, sexuality and reproduction. This spring, as he faced a tough primary and a divided state party, he made a last minute push during the legislative session to pass laws prohibiting trans students from playing sports in public schools as well as prohibiting “divisive concepts” from being taught.

Parents of LGBTQ children criticized those new laws as adding to a climate of fear and intolerance for their children.

“Rather than trying to pass public policy that helps protect our community, he’s unfortunately politicized and stigmatized our community for his political gain,” Park said.

In a message to its supporters earlier this month, Frontline Policy Action characterized the LGBTQ community as embracing evil and passing off its “warped distortion of human sexuality as “normal.”” The organization went on to detail how its supporters could reject Pride during the month of June, as first reported by The Georgia Voice. Frontline Policy Action did not return The Current’s request for comment.

“It isn’t normal. You don’t have to accept it,” the message continued. “…the LGBTQ+ Agenda is a desire to normalize sin, to impose “acceptance” of sin on others, and to “groom” a rising generation to view anyone willing to stand for truth as hateful, bigoted, and narrow-minded.”

Georgia’s new bills supported by Kemp this spring also include HB 1178, which allows parents to challenge administrators on their child’s curriculum, and SB 226, which gives principals 10 days to review a parent’s book complaint and decide whether to remove it from school shelves.

Advocates say these bills could disproportionately impact LGBTQ students. Nearly one-third of banned books in the United States deal with LGBTQ themes or have prominent LGBTQ characters, according to a banned book index created by free expression organization PEN America.

“He makes it clear that he has to protect people who are not queer from those of us who are,” said Edward, from First City Pride Center. “This is just one additional example of how Governor Kemp has directly and indirectly harmed the people he is tasked with protecting.”