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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

HRC: Atlanta is oh so perfect on LGBT equality

We're perfect! The Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBT-rights organization, will formally announce today that Atlanta's LGBT-friendly policies received top honors on its 2013 Municipal Equality Index, a major rating scale that measures equality in city governments across the nation. According to the advocacy group, Atlanta would be the first city in the "Deep South" to earn that distinction. Other Georgia cities - looking at you, Athens, Augusta, and Columbus - didn't fare so well.

A press conference is scheduled later this afternoon at City Hall to celebrate the occasion. The HRC and Georgia Equality will recognize Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan, and other city officials for the policies that helped Atlanta earn the recognition.

The HRC's report, which we've included after the jump, devotes a full page to Atlanta's "success story." Reed picked up his pen to discuss what he's accomplished on the LGBT front throughout his political career:

LGBT equality has been an important issue for me throughout my career. As a member of Georgia's House of Representatives, I was the chief sponsor of Georgia's first and only Hate Crimes Bill that protected LGBT individuals. As a State Senator, I led the effort to oppose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. I consistently helped defeat state bills that would ban gay adoption. On the national level, I was a vocal advocate for the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and for allowing LGBT individuals to serve openly in the military.

My commitment to LGBT rights continues as Atlanta's Mayor. In 2012, I expressed my support of marriage equality for same-sex couples; marriage is a fundamental right for all loving couples regardless of their sexual orientation. I recently appointed Robin Shahar as my Mayoral Advisor on LGBT issues. She will identify and provide counsel on areas of community concern, and will recommend strategies for advancing LGBT equality citywide. In July, I proudly signed a bill updating the Atlanta Code to ensure that all non-discrimination provisions include gender identity as a protected class. This September, I signed on as a co-chair of the national Mayors for the Freedom to Marry campaign.

Atlanta's history of civil rights leadership is rooted in the belief that our diversity makes our city stronger. As a result, Atlanta is home to one of the largest and most vibrant LGBT communities in the country. As Mayor, I will continue my efforts to achieve equal protection and equal treatment of Atlanta's LGBT residents, workers and visitors.

Left unmentioned: that Reed supported civil unions, but not same-sex marriage until late 2012. The move earned him a dreaded "flip flop" ranking from the AJC's Politifact, an honor that he didn't enjoy so much.

You can read the full report after the jump:

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