At­lanta may­oral can­di­dates tackle LGBT is­sues

GA Voice - - Front Page -

There’s a crowded ticket com­ing to bal­lot boxes this Novem­ber: in ad­di­tion to city coun­cil and school board races, At­lanta will elect its new mayor.

A hand­ful of can­di­dates are con­sid­ered top con­tenders, and it is these that gay peer men­tor­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion Rain­bros. in­vited to its up­com­ing may­oral fo­rum geared to­ward reach­ing the younger LGBT vot­ing pop­u­la­tion.

“[James Brian Yancey, founder of Rain­bros.] thought it would be a great idea to get some of the younger vot­ers out there to get out and make a dif­fer­ence,” event or­ga­nizer Char­lie Paine said. “It’s a good way to get LGBTQIA youth in­volved in is­sues that mat­ter to them.”

This is the sec­ond LGBT-geared may­oral fo­rum, fol­low­ing one held in late June through the At­lanta Gay and Les­bian Cham­ber of Com­merce. Maria Sa­porta of Sa­por­taRe­port mod­er­ated a dis­cus­sion be­tween eight can­di­dates.

That fo­rum in­cluded ques­tions for At­lanta’s busi­ness com­mu­nity, and also touched on how the can­di­dates felt about keep­ing openly gay po­lice Chief Erika Shields on staff if elected.

Top­ics up for dis­cus­sion at the Rain­bros. event in­clude At­lanta’s HIV epi­demic, home­less youth and how the city is a “sanc­tu­ary city” in a way for LGBT youth in the South­east.

“I know [HIV] has been an is­sue that hasn’t been talked about by our cur­rent mayor much at all,” Paine said. “We’re talk­ing about polic­ing

By DAL­LAS ANNE DUN­CAN

as well, un­der­stand­ing that po­lice aren’t re­ally trained in help­ing LGBTQIA youth and this is some­thing we could pos­si­bly make bet­ter.”

Paine said the younger vot­ing crowd is a hard pop­u­la­tion to reach, and he hopes stu­dents at At­lanta’s col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties come out in force to hear from their can­di­dates.

“Lo­cal pol­i­tics makes way more of a dif­fer­ence than na­tional. It’s over­shad­owed, but the deci- sions that are made at the lo­cal level re­ally changes the ide­ol­ogy of the pop­u­la­tion and can ac­tu­ally change na­tional pol­i­tics in the long run,” he said.

In prepa­ra­tion for the fo­rum, Ge­or­gia Voice posed a ques­tion to the can­di­dates: In what spe­cific ways do you plan to pro­tect LGBT cit­i­zens in At­lanta from both dis­crim­i­na­tion and bod­ily harm? Their an­swers, lim­ited to ap­prox­i­mately 75 words, are on page 8.

Maria Sa­porta, far left, mod­er­ated the June 23 At­lanta Gay and Les­bian Cham­ber of Com­merce may­oral fo­rum, which in­cluded eight can­di­dates. Pic­tured, from left, are Peter Aman, Keisha Lance Bot­toms, John Eaves, Vin­cent Fort and Kwanza Hall. (Photo by Dal­las Anne Dun­can)

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