Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announces support for marriage equality

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 3:21 PM

For years, mayor had said views on issue were evolving
Before becoming mayor in 2009, Kasim Reed faced criticism from LGBT activists and progressive supporters for not supporting gay marriage. He supported civil unions, he said, but was "wrestling with his beliefs" when it came to same-sex marriage. When President Barack Obama announced his support for the issue, the heat on the mayor only became more intense. Some even speculated that Reed's views played a role in the mayor not being selected to speak at this year's Democratic National Convention.

The mayor's views, apparently, continued to evolve. And today, after signing a resolution by Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan, the legislative body's only openly gay member, in favor of gay marriage, Reed said in a long statement, just released by his office:

"Today marks an important day as I announce my support for marriage equality... It is well known that I have gone through a good bit of reflection on this issue, but listening to the stories of so many people that I know and care about has strengthened my belief that marriage is a fundamental right for everyone. Loving couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the right to marry whomever they want. By signing this resolution, I pledge my support to marriage equality for same-sex couples, consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution." [...]

"I believe in tolerance and acceptance, regardless of a person's race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. That creed has been a guiding force for me throughout my life, as reflected by my actions and votes as a lifelong Democrat and elected official in the state of Georgia for more than 14 years."

The statement includes Reed's record on LGBT legislation and words of support from Lee Schreter, a longtime friend of the mayor's and an attorney who helped with the Atlanta Eagle raid settlement, the Rev. Timothy McDonald of First Iconium Baptist Church, and the Rev. Harry Knox of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The mayor also adds he'll join other mayors who have signed the 'Mayors for Freedom to Marry' pledge, a "a broad-based and nonpartisan group of mayors who believe that all people should be able to share in the love and commitment of marriage."

Now, keep in mind that there's not much the mayor can do regarding marriage equality. Georgia voters in 2004 voted in favor of a referendum banning marriage between anyone other than a man and a woman. He can use the bully pulpit to help educate people about the issue, however.

Regardless, the announcement's sure to make many supporters happy, as it remained a sticking point between Reed and Atlanta's LGBT community and many liberals.

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