Last night, mayoral candidate Mary Norwood threw a well-attended wing-ding at Amsterdam Atlanta, a popular gay bar in Morningside. I missed her speech, but caught up with former City Council President Cathy Woolard, who'd stopped by to check out the festivities.
Woolard isn't not publicly backing either Norwood or opponent Kasim Reed, but she believes Reed's stance on gay marriage he favors civil unions has hurt his appeal among gay voters. This could be a significant factor in the election because, as we noted in a news article this week, the contentious race for Council District 6 is likely to turn out a large number of gay votes.
It seems a bit odd that a candidate's position on a non-local issue such as gay marriage or Jewish settlements, global warming, immigration policy, etc. would have much bearing on a municipal election. Frankly, if you're looking for a litmus-test to help determine whether a candidate is supportive of your interests, there are many others that would be more relevant.
Both Norwood and Reed have prominent gay campaign staffers, including neighborhood activist Paul Zucca, who chairs Norwood's campaign, and Reese McCranie, Reed's campaign spokesman.
Still, Reed seems to be on the wrong side of this issue and it may cost him.
On the other hand, I've heard from my sources in Buckhead that many residents there are upset that Norwood now says she's willing to consider re-instituting the old 4 a.m. closing time for bars and nightclubs. The law rolling back bar hours was passed with Norwood's affirmative vote in 2003.
The Councilwoman's apparent wishy-washiness over bar hours could end up losing her votes in her home base of Buckhead, which is still largely opposed to a return to later bar hours.
At this point in the game, a candidate's success could hinge not simply on saying the right things, but also his skill at avoiding controversial topics.
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