Top lo­cal news of 2012: At­lanta backs mar­riage

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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)

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