SAY­ING 'I DO' TO MAR­RIAGE EQUAL­ITY

Meet the cou­ple who got U.S. Rep. David Scott to speak out for mar­riage rights.

GA Voice - - Front Page - By DYANA BAGBY dbagby@the­gavoice.com

Rob Anglin and his part­ner, Jens Pals­gaard, pulled to­gether charts, polls and even a Power Point pre­sen­ta­tion as they pre­pared to meet with U.S. Rep. David Scott at his of­fice in Smyrna, Ga., to dis­cuss his po­si­tion on same-sex mar­riage.

“We wanted to get as much stuff put to­gether as pos­si­ble,” Anglin said. “We were told we would only have 20 to 30 min­utes.”

Turns out the cou­ple, who be­gan dat­ing last July and got en­gaged in Novem­ber, didn’t need any of their pre­pared ma­te­ri­als to talk to Scott, a Demo­crat who rep­re­sents Ge­or­gia’s 13th con­gres­sional dis­trict, which in­cludes parts of Cobb, Clay­ton, Dou­glas, Fayette, Ful­ton and Henry coun­ties. He is serv­ing his sixth term.

Anglin and Pals­gaard, who live in Lithia Springs, said when they walked into Scott’s of­fice April 30, he asked them why they were there.

When they told him they wanted to know his po­si­tion on mar­riage equal­ity, Anglin said Scott told them he “has al­ways sup­ported mar­riage equal­ity” and there was no need for them to get out their pre­pared ma­te­ri­als.

The GA Voice reached out to Rep. Scott’s of­fice re­peat­edly for comment for this story but did not re­ceive any re­sponse.

While im­pressed and glad for Scott’s sup­port, the an­swer sur­prised Anglin and Pals­gaard.

Anglin said they de­cided to ask for a meet­ing with Scott af­ter they looked through ma­te­ri­als about Ge­or­gia’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Congress on the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign’s web­site and noted Scott did not have an of­fi­cial po­si­tion listed. They did know he voted in 2004 and 2006 in sup­port of a fed­eral con­sti­tu­tional ban on same-sex mar­riage.

“We no­ticed we had five Democrats from Ge­or­gia, two who sup­ported same-sex mar­riage, two who op­posed and David Scott, who had not taken a po­si­tion,” Anglin said.

The two sup­port­ers are Reps. John Lewis and Hank John­son; those op­posed are Reps. San­ford Bishop and John Bar­row.

Anglin said Scott told them he voted against same-sex mar­riage be­cause he be­lieved he was vot­ing the way his con­stituents would want him to vote. He also told them he at­tended gay for­mer U.S. Rep. Bar­ney Frank’s wed­ding last sum­mer.

They pushed and asked him if he would sign on as a co-spon­sor the Re­spect for Mar­riage Act if it was rein­tro­duced — leg­is­la­tion that would re­peal the anti-gay De­fense of Mar­riage Act and re­quire the fed­eral govern­ment to rec­og­nize same-sex mar­riages. Anglin said Scott said he would con­sider it. Anglin and Pals­gaard also asked Scott about sup­port­ing other LGBT equal­ity bills, such as the Em­ploy­ment Non-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act. A spokesper­son told them via email Scott would con­sider th­ese re­quests as well.

‘DOES HE RE­ALLY MEAN IT?”

While thrilled that Scott said he sup­ports mar­riage equal­ity, Aglin said he and Pals­gaard won­dered if the con­gress­man was only telling them some­thing to get them out of his of­fice.

“It was so sim­ple. He said, ‘I sup­port it.’ We didn’t have to open our com­puter at all to show him the num­bers and re­search. We did noth­ing to con­vince him, which made it a whole lot eas­ier for us,” Anglin said.

“But we thought, ‘Is he be­ing up front with us?’ He had op­posed [same-sex mar­riage] in past. We won­dered, ‘Does he re­ally mean it?’”

With those con­cerns, they emailed Joe Jervis of the pop­u­lar LGBT blog Joe.My.God. and also HRC de­scrib­ing their meet­ing with Scott. Jervis emailed for a re­sponse from Scott’s of­fice and re­ceived a one-sen­tence re­sponse, “Con­gress­man Scott fully sup­ports mar­riage equal­ity.”

Anglin and Pals­gaard are not strangers to mar­riage equal­ity ac­tivism. In Jan­uary, they were one of five cou­ples who marched with sup­port­ers to the DeKalb Count Pro­bate Court in down­town De­catur to ask for a mar­riage li­cense, know­ing they would be de­nied be­cause Ge­or­gia does not rec­og­nize same-sex mar­riages.

“We both con­sider our­selves ac­tivists,” Anglin said. “As vot­ers liv­ing in his dis­trict, we would want to know what he thought on an is­sue so im­por­tant to us, es­pe­cially since he had not made his view pub­lic.

“And now that he has come out and says it is OK, it makes it eas­ier for the next per­son and the next per­son. And that’s how laws get changed and equal­ity is en­sured for all peo­ple,” he said.

Af­ter meet­ing with lo­cal ac­tivists Jens Pals­gaard and Rob Anglin, U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) has come out pub­licly in sup­port of same-sex mar­riage. (File pho­tos)

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