At­lanta City Coun­cil votes to sup­port mar­riage equal­ity

GA Voice - - News -

The At­lanta City Coun­cil voted 11-2 on Dec. 3 to pass a res­o­lu­tion sup­port­ing mar­riage equal­ity. The vote puts the coun­cil ahead of Mayor Kasim Reed, who has stated pub­licly he does not sup­port mar­riage rights for same-sex cou­ples.

City Coun­cilmem­ber Alex Wan, who is gay, pre­sented the res­o­lu­tion to the full City Coun­cil.

“Folks in the com­mu­nity have been ask­ing and en­cour­ag­ing me to do some­thing. And with At­lanta be­ing the city it is and hav­ing such a large LGBT pop­u­la­tion, I really wanted us to be one of the lead­ers in the dis­cus­sion on mar­riage equal­ity,” Wan said. “This was also very im­por­tant to me.”

For the past two months, Wan said he has been an­swer­ing ques­tions from coun­cil mem­bers who wanted to know, for ex­am­ple, the dif­fer­ence be­tween mar­riage equal­ity and civil unions and why it was im­por­tant to make a state­ment even though the res­o­lu­tion has no le­gal im­pact on gay mar­riage in Ge­or­gia.

“Some didn’t un­der­stand the con­cept of mar­riage equal­ity and civil unions. Some wanted to know why the city should take a po­si­tion on this when it has no im­pact,” Wan said. “I ex­plained to them the sym­bolic state­ment it makes and that it was more than just hav­ing the rights.”

Wan was very pleased with the 11-2 vote. The two “no” votes were from Howard Shook and C.T. Martin.

Wan spoke with Reed about his res­o­lu­tion at the be­gin­ning of his process to get the coun­cil’s sup­port of same-sex mar­riage.

“We had a good con­ver­sa­tion about it. It wasn’t about him. This was a po­si­tion I wanted my City Coun­cil to take,” Wan said. “I re­spect his process.”

Sonji Ja­cobs, spokesper­son for Reed, is­sued a short state­ment when asked if the mayor had a re­ac­tion to the coun­cil’s vote: “Mayor Reed respects the de­ci­sion of the At­lanta City Coun­cil in pass­ing a res­o­lu­tion sup­port­ing mar­riage equal­ity.”

Reed met with LGBT ad­vo­cates in June to dis­cuss his stance, but de­spite the pres­sure, was still was not will­ing to change his po­si­tion even af­ter Pres­i­dent Barack Obama came out in sup­port of gay mar­riage.

Reed said ear­lier this year he was still strug­gling with the is­sue of sup­port­ing full mar­riage equal­ity.

“I re­spect Pres­i­dent Obama’s de­ci­sion to stand in sup­port of mar­riage equal­ity. I have fought hard for the rights of gays and les­bians my en­tire po­lit­i­cal ca­reer from pro­tect­ing adop­tion rights for gay and les­bian fam­i­lies, to vot­ing against Ge­or­gia’s con­sti­tu­tional ban on same-sex mar­riage as a state se­na­tor, to serv­ing as the state house spon­sor for the only hate crimes bill ever passed in the state of Ge­or­gia,” Reed said in a state­ment at the time.

“While I am still wrestling with my own per­sonal be­liefs on the is­sue of mar­riage, I deeply ap­pre­ci­ate the con­tri­bu­tions gays and les­bians make to our city ev­ery sin­gle day and I re­main com­mit­ted to At­lanta’s vi­brant and di­verse LGBT com­mu­nity,” he said.

While the At­lanta City Coun­cil’s res­o­lu­tion has no le­gal im­pact and it re­mains il­le­gal to get mar­ried in Ge­or­gia, other coun­cils as well as may­ors are step­ping up to make sym­bolic state­ments of their sup­port for mar­riage equal­ity.

In Septem­ber, the Austin, Texas, City Coun­cil passed a res­o­lu­tion in sup­port of same-sex mar­riage. Last year in North Carolina, the Durham City Coun­cil also passed a res­o­lu­tion in sup­port of gay mar­riage.

The Free­dom to Marry or­ga­ni­za­tion also be­gan a May­ors for Free­dom of Mar­riage cam­paign this year. Some 289 may­ors from 33 states have signed onto the pledge.

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