Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reed, Norwood continue to battle for gay votes

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 11:12 PM

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Kasim Reed made his strongest bid for gay votes yet today with a press conference in the parking lot shared by Outwrite Books and Blakes — essentially the epicenter of gay Atlanta.

As you've probably now heard, Reed has been put on the defensive regarding this issue, largely because of an interview he gave to now-defunct SoVo, in which he said his religious faith allows him to embrace civil unions for gay couples, but stops short of gay marriage.

And he brought along a few friends:

Larry Pellegrini, a lobbyist for progressive and LGBT causes, pointed out that Reed was one of only 14 state senators who voted against the notorious gay marriage amendment in 2004. Pelligrini said "one-issue voters" often end up disappointed.

Sen. Nan Orrock, another big Reed supporter, touted his perfect legislative record on LGBT issues, adding, "Go by the record, not the rhetoric."

And, most interestingly, Council President Lisa Borders disparaged Mary Norwood's commitment to gay causes, saying the councilwoman had never shown must interest in gay-related issues.

Again, Norwood was criticized for not voting on a proposal to increase domestic partner benefits for city employees, with Borders calling it a "landmark vote."

OK, I think it's clear CL isn't backing Norwood, but this is a little unfair. The item was on the consent agenda, which is where the Council puts no-brainer legislation. I understand this is Reed's only weapon here, but it's a stretch to hammer a councilperson for missing a consent vote. On the other hand, let this be a lesson for politicians who take votes lightly — you never know which one may come back to bite you.

Reed apparently called today's event in response to an e-mail that's making the rounds titled, "Kasim Reed Would Not Protect The Brooks-Wolf Family." Here's the first paragraph:

Please imagine the following actual encounter: Doug Brooks and Rusty Wolf, a couple together for 11 years who were married in 2005 in Massachusetts, took the opportunity to ask Kasim Reed about his position on marriage equality. On November 8, Doug, Rusty and their two young children were in Morningside’s Sidney Marcus Park. With their children in arms, Doug and Rusty politely asked Senator Reed why he did not believe their children were entitled to the benefits of having two married parents. Kasim Reed looked this family in the eye and said that his religious views did not allow him to recognize a civil marriage. This was a tough conversation to have in our own neighborhood with someone who might lead our City and its large gay and lesbian population.

The lengthy open letter goes on to explain that electing Reed as mayor would "represent a step backwards" for gay residents of Atlanta and urges voters to support Norwood, the "marriage equality candidate."

The letter is co-signed by Brooks, Wolf and about two dozen others, although its exact authorship is unknown, at least by me. And while it's exceedingly well-written and persuasive, it's clearly aimed at the "one-issue voters" Pellegrini referenced.

This'll be an interesting next six days.

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