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Atlanta mayor announces support of gay marriage

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

ATLANTA — Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Tuesday he supports gay marriage as a "fundamental right," taking an emphatic stand on the issue months after President Barack Obama declared that same-sex couples should be allowed to wed.

When Obama came out in support of gay marriage in May, Reed said he was still "wrestling" with the issue even though he supported gay rights overall and previously voiced support for civil unions.

The Atlanta City Council may have finally forced the mayor's hand. Council members recently passed a resolution stating gay and lesbian citizens should have the right to marry. Reed agreed to sign that resolution Tuesday, saying the occasion "marks an important day."

"It is well known that I have gone through a good bit of reflection on this issue, but listening to the stories of so many people that I know and care about has strengthened my belief that marriage is a fundamental right for everyone," Reed said in a statement. "Loving couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the right to marry whomever they want."

Gay rights advocates praised the mayor, while also noting he remains one of the few high-profile supporters of same-sex marriage in Georgia politics. The state has a constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex marriage.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, said Reed's move may have been largely symbolic, but it sends a significant message to the gay community in the city and state.

"I think it's important for everybody to understand we still have a long way to go here in Georgia," Graham said. "But having Mayor Reed, having the City Council so solidly behind this, it is a big first step to begin realizing the importance of marriage equality here in Georgia."

Reed will be up for re-election next year in Atlanta, a majority-black city that also has a visible gay constituency. His spokeswoman did not respond to a request to interview Reed.

While black voters and especially black churches have long opposed gay marriage, there are signs that support for same-sex marriage has risen dramatically among blacks in just the past four years. A Pew Research Center poll in July showed 51 percent of black Americans oppose gay marriage while 40 percent support it. In 2008, only 26 percent favored gay marriage.

Andra Gillespie, a political science professor who specializes in African-American politics at Emory University, noted the NAACP endorsed same-sex marriage as a civil right soon after Obama lent his support. The fact that Obama won re-election after taking a stand may also have given more comfort to black politicians who, like Reed, remained on the fence, Gillespie said.

"Obama making his announcement coupled with the NAACP endorsement suggests African-American politicians have greater cover to be able to come out in favor of gay marriage if they so choose," Gillespie said.

Gillespie said she doubts Reed's endorsement of same-sex marriage will hurt him in his re-election bid for mayor. Reed has also emerged as a rare rising star among Democrats in a state increasingly dominated by Republicans. Could the issue hurt him if Reed seeks higher office?

If Reed ran for Congress, he'd still have a good shot at a heavily Democratic House seat in metro Atlanta, Gillespie said. If he decided to run statewide, it might be more of a problem.

"If this state is still as Republican as it has been, with him being a Democrat, his party would be the first barrier more so than gay marriage," Gillespie said.

Comments

R 1 year, 4 months ago

Wrestling?

How appropriate, since his support was indeed scripted just like WWE Hell in Cell...

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Bruce 1 year, 4 months ago

I believe every tax paying citizen has the right to every legal opportunity, however, not thrilled about sharing the "marriage" with Homosexuals and Lesbians.

Next, I must say that this measure will not satisfy their group. They will parade drag queens around our kids, introduce their agenda to our kids in schools without obtaining parental permission, and all along proclaiming that this is "The New Normal".

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suedehead 1 year, 4 months ago

Trust me, we don't care if you're thrilled or not about sharing a word. I personally don't care what it's called since it's not a religious matter. My partner and I of 18 years should have the SAME rights as all other tax paying Americans in a committed relationship.

Take a moment and imagine not being in ICU while your spouse is dying because that hospital doesn't recognize you as family. I'm angry the IRS sees me and my partner as equal when taking our money, but unequal when it comes to tax benefits.

Since you seem to know this won't satisy "their group", what do you think will? Why is full equality in all areas for everyone so threatning?

Drag queens parading around ourt kids? Really? Honestly, where? Wherever it is, those kids probably think they're funny since they haven't learned hate and judgement.

KIds in schools aren't being taught a gay agenda, whatever the heck that is. I sure didn't get the memo. Since you seem to be aware of it can you fill me in? Does it involve me having to do something or bring a covered dish?

Most of today's kids are surrounded by diversity from birth and therefore accept the world is made up of all types of people. Sorry if it scares or troubles you that future generations are more accepting.

Judging by your post, it's apparent you don't know any gay people on a personal level. If you did, you would see most of us are just like you. "The New Normal" is not that horrible tv show, it's all of us realizing that we're all very similar and need to accpet one another as equals.

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suedehead 1 year, 4 months ago

You know nothing about me or my life, but follow the typical route of the ignorant and bigoted and make me a stereotype. Dude, you haven't a clue.

Please Google suedehead, You have no idea what it means. Not only is it a song I like, but I took it as a easy screen name since my niece once said my buzzed head felt like suede.

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suedehead 1 year, 4 months ago

looks like news2me's comment to my first post was deleted.

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suedehead 1 year, 4 months ago

You're ignorance can be seen from space.

Why would I have your comment deleted? My reply wouldn't have made sense. The mods must have taken it down for it's stupidity. And sorry, I've never had one of mine deleted. Care to share where you would find that info? Continued proof you're a moron.

What's funny is that you think me or my partner are "gay skinheads", when that could not be farther from the truth. Now, if you called me a 6foot6 245lb former college DE, you'd be getting closer. Sorry, buddy, we're not all lisping sissies or other stereotypes you like to come up with. GFY

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dman 1 year, 4 months ago

Time to vote out Mr. Reed. He doesn't speak for all of us.

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