Top local news of 2012: Atlanta backs marriage
Whether it was the threat of the end of the world or just plain old fashioned holiday spirit — or most likely political timing — the month of December brought Atlanta officials together in a cornucopia of outspoken support for LGBT equality.
First, on Dec. 3, the Atlanta City Council passed a resolution 11-2 stating its support for same-sex marriage. The resolution was introduced by Alex Wan, the only openly gay council member, after months of discussion with his colleagues about the difference between civil unions and marriage equality.
Wan, who represents District 6, said he pushed for the resolution because it was “the right thing to do.”
When the resolution came to Mayor Kasim Reed’s desk for a signature Dec. 11, he not only signed it but came out publicly in support of gay marriage, reversing his earlier position of only supporting civil unions. His announcement also put to rest the issue he said he had been “wrestling” with for some time.
Reed met with LGBT activists in June to specifically discuss his position on marriage equality but was not quite ready to say “I do.” In a statement released on Dec. 11, Reed said he evolved on marriage equality after discussing the issue with close friends and family.
“Loving couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the right to marry whomever they want,” he said.
For more on Reed’s announcement, please see Page 23.
With the council and the mayor backing marriage equality, the Atlanta Police Department followed in step on Dec. 12 by releasing an “It Gets Better” video to help LGBT youth. The video features 23 openly gay and lesbian officers.
Atlanta still had its bumps along the way in 2012, however. The city finally settled a lawsuit for $250,000 on Oct. 15 with a man who sued the city after he alleged he was denied a job with the APD because he is HIV positive.
Atlanta scored 82 out of 100 on LGBT issues in the Municipal Equality Index released by the Human Rights Campaign on Nov. 27. The city received 4 out of 8 possible points for the city’s “relationship with the LGBT community,” scoring 3/5 for the city leadership’s public position on LGBT equality and 1/3 for local pro-equality legislative or policy efforts. Gilbert’s Café, had expanded next door to open 10th and Piedmont in the former Outwrite space.
Rafshoon to is moving on to new challenges: In January, he starts a new position as programming director for the AJC Decatur Book Festival.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed signs a marriage equality resolution introduced by City Councilmember Alex Wan (left), who is gay. (Photo by Sonji Jacobs)