Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shame On You, Mr. Reed

While going to and from the grocery store today, I saw something that is blatantly unethical and dirty by the Kasim Reed campaign. The low photo resolution is from my phone's older camera; however, the implication should be obvious. (My apologies for a finger being partly in one of the shots.)

Mr. Reed's campaign is so desperate that they have resorted to blocking the view of Mary Norwood's campaign signs by placing their own signs directly in front. This is despicable behavior from someone running for public office. I have not seen this tactic in a great many years, even through the two hotly contested W. campaigns for President. I'm utterly disgusted.

For the instances documented here in photos, all located in the strip of I-20 westbound between Bill Kennedy Way and Capitol Avenue, I was kind enough to move the signs so as to be positioned side-by-side. However, should I see any instances of this again prior to the election on Tuesday, I shall be photographing them for posting online, and pulling the offending signs entirely.

Shame on you, Mr. Reed. Please get your campaign workers out to fix these horrible, disgraceful, and despicable acts by your campaign or its supporters.

To our blog's readers, this incident further cements our endorsement for, and belief in, Mary Norwood for Atlanta Mayor. Make sure you come out to vote on December 1, and don't forget to read the joint letter from Atlanta LGBT citizens in support of Mary Norwood.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lambda Legal Sues Atlanta PD; Police Chief Resigns

In what is certainly no coincidence, Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington and Assistant Chief Alan Dreher have resigned only weeks before the current administration was to leave office.

This news comes in less than a day after Lambda Legal announced their intent to file a federal lawsuit against the City of Atlanta, officially titled Calhoun v. Pennington. The lawsuit alleges violations of the United States Constitution, as well as the Georgia Constitution and Official Code of Georgia (OCGA).

The lawsuit's full text is not immediately available, but likely cites at least the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the patrons of Atlanta Eagle were subject to searches and background checks without warrants issued in their names, and allegedly without probable cause to institute those searches and background checks.

Co-counsel Dan Grossman explained, in plain terms, the alleged violations committed by the Atlanta Police Department:

Imagine if police walk into a Wal-Mart and see someone shoplifting, and because they see what they think is a crime taking place at Wal-Mart, they take everyone at Wal-Mart, throw them on the floor, spread their legs, put their hands in their pockets, take their IDs, and put their names in a computer simply because they're at a place where someone else might or might not be doing something wrong.

This lawsuit does not yet have its own page on Lambda Legal's docket Web page, but should be listed there soon. (The likely location will be this link.)

Why GLBT Voters Should Be Very Careful in Their Choice for Mayor of Atlanta

This post shares the title of a joint letter released by concerned Atlantans today who support Mary Norwood for Atlanta Mayor. GLBTATL endorsed Mary Norwood last week.

The main text of the letter is below; view the original PDF version to see the list of all the community members who signed on.

To: All GLBT Voters in the City of Atlanta
Date: November 24, 2009

We are your friends, co-workers, and neighbors in the City of Atlanta, and we ask you to vote for Mary Norwood to be Atlanta’s next Mayor on December 1.

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.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why we believe in Mary Norwood, in one word: Commitment.

I'm willing to say something that elected officials rarely say: Yes, I'm human, and I am capable of making a mistake.

In commentary quoted (albeit with an incorrect first name) by WABE-FM, I inferred that Mary Norwood was the only current Mayoral candidate in the Pride Parade. There was a similar but more direct claim in AJC, which has since been removed from their online article. Kasim Reed's campaign staff has sent a correction, as shown in these photos, along with the following statement:

I understand there are differences between our two camps, but when speaking to others including media please try and keep statements factually accurate.

Please let me clarify that GLBTATL is not in anyone's camp. We are not part of, or offering assistance to, any current campaign. That said:

This correction regarding Pride does not change our endorsement of Mary Norwood for Atlanta Mayor. We believe that both Mary Norwood and Kasim Reed are high-quality candidates in general, and both have worked with the GLBTQ+ community in differing capacities. Our endorsement decision was based on two main factors, which are superficial at first glance but are deep in long-term impact:

  • Kasim Reed co-sponsored the text in 2006 SB 79 that expressly created Christan Bible study courses in public schools with Georgia state funds. We feel that it is inappropriate to funnel state monies into public schools for the purposes of studying any one religion, especially if other belief systems are not permitted equal funding and treatment.

  • While municipal government does not (generally) have the power to get involved in issues such as marriage equality, this issue is currently a hot political topic. The marriage question gives valuable insight into long-term perspectives of the candidates, and their depths of commitment to the GLBTQ+ community.

Because of 2006 SB 79, and Mr. Reed's stated "personal faith" preventing him making a short and simple stand for marriage equality, we felt uncomfortable with Mr. Reed's long-term future prospects for our community.

Mr. Reed's preferred civil union definition doesn't cut it: "Separate but equal" died in 1964, and should stay dead. Religion-based bans on interracial marriage were overturned in 1967. Too often, religion has been cited as a reason to dodge important civil rights questions. These are the same questions which, as observed by Iowa's Supreme Court, have no business being based on religion.

Amir Farokhi, also one of our endorsees, said it very well:

I support full equality for marriage. It's a yes-or-no issue. Any definition that is fuzzy or in-between is just a matter of political convenience.

We believe that Mary Norwood's absolute written support of marriage equality, without reservation, is a long-term view that better aligns with GLBTATL's goals. It also demonstrates a deep commitment to our community that transcends just the office of Atlanta Mayor, and for that reason, she has our full support.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vote Dec. 1: Mary Norwood for Atlanta Mayor

With this year's municipal elections coming down to real issues affecting real Atlantans, endorses our community friend, Mary Norwood, for Atlanta Mayor. Though our community groups have had mixed feelings on the Atlanta mayoral race, we believe that Mary Norwood has the drive and ability to effect meaningful change at City Hall.

Mary Norwood has been an outspoken advocate of equality for all citizens, in every part of life. She has pledged not only to push for City policies and ordinances that support equal rights at the City level, but also to use the Mayor's office wisely as a voice for our community to State and Federal legislators.

The campaign has provided GLBTATL a digital copy of her detailed platform for the GLBTQ+ community (viewable at The position paper includes an excerpt from her interview about her daughter's coming-out in the final issue of Southern Voice, and a decisively stated stance on marriage:

Marriages make our community stronger. Gays and lesbians are our neighbors, friends and families, our police officers and our firefighters, and in these tough times all families need the added peace of mind that marriage—and only marriage—can bring.

Norwood's opponent, on the other hand, has used exclusionary personal opinion—rather than informed judgment—to defend his absolute opposition to marriage equality. His divisive personal opinions have resulted in other biased work in the Georgia legislature, such as advocating the forced inclusion of one religion's studies in Georgia public schools' curricula.

GLBTATL has always backed the position that inclusion is the better principle. Our joint effort with the Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition, to protest Rick Warren's keynote address at The King Center, brought together a group of racially, culturally, and spiritually diverse people and community groups to show that Atlantans of all kinds want inclusiveness in our institutions. We cannot, in good conscience, endorse a candidate who unwaveringly stands by outdated and inappropriate exclusionary principles in government.

Municipal elections are often regarded as mundane or incidental. This year, the GLBTQ+ community has an opportunity to put a member of our extended family, not just an ally-in-name-only, in the Atlanta Mayor's office. GLBTATL therefore believes that Mary Norwood is the best candidate for Atlanta Mayor in the December 1 runoff elections.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vote Dec. 1: Amir Farokhi for Atlanta City Council, Post 2 At-Large

In this year's runoff election that stands to define the concept of change, is proud to endorse Amir Farokhi for the position of Atlanta City Council, Post 2 At-Large.

After the unethical, and possibly illegal, police raid on Atlanta Eagle on September 10, GLBTATL organized a public rally to give a a voice to the victims of the raid. Local candidates for public office were invited to show their support for the community. For City Council Post 2 At-Large, only Amir Farokhi presented his case to the assembled crowd of hundreds:

We are all here to determine the future of our city. Atlanta is what we make of it, and whether this is a city that fulfills its potential to become a truly great city, a city that has space for everyone, in which there are no second-class residents, in which everyone is respected by residents and by the city, we have work to do.... I hope to stand shoulder by shoulder with you, today, tomorrow, and if elected, make sure this a city that continues to be a beacon of light... for the LGBT community in the southeast and around the country.

Amir Farokhi has already spelled out his platform for equality to include better promotion and utilization of Atlanta's domestic partner registry—which has existed since 1997, yet appears nowhere on the City's web site. Farokhi takes further bold steps by pledging to seek out contractors who provide domestic-partner benefits, and promote the hiring of LGBTQ+ Atlantans to City offices.

In stark contrast, Farokhi's opponent does not even address the existence of Atlanta's gay community on his campaign website. With nearly one-eighth of our city population identifying as lesbian, gay, or transgender, Atlanta's LGBTQ+ community cannot afford to elect officials who do not put a priority on our community's needs.

GLBTATL asked Farokhi about extending his equality platform beyond Atlanta, particularly whether he would support marriage equality, to which he said: "I support full equality for marriage. It's a yes-or-no issue. Any definition that is fuzzy or in-between is just a matter of political convenience."

In September, our community was attacked by our own sworn protectors. Just this week, our iconic community publication of record, Southern Voice, was shut down. Now, more than ever before, our community needs the direct and open support of our City government. GLBTATL believes that Amir Farokhi is the best candidate for Atlanta City Council, Post 2 At-Large—both for Atlanta's LGBTQ+ community, and our City as a whole.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Southern Voice, David, and others have shut their doors

PQA reports that Window Media, LLC has shut its doors:
The publishers of Southern Voice and David Atlanta magazine—along with a handful of other gay publications—abruptly closed its doors over the weekend, ending a months-long battle with a federal receivership that has imperiled the gay media company.
This means that Southern Voice, Davïd Atlanta, and other regional gay newspapers (Washington Blade, Houston Voice, South Florida Blade, The 411 Magazine) are no more. As of this writing, some of their websites are still up, but appear to be overloaded or experiencing other intermittent errors.

To Laura Douglas-Brown, Dyana Bagby, Ryan Lee, Matt Schafer, and the other writers and editors of Southern Voice and David Atlanta, our hearts go out to you. This could be one of the worst possible times for gay community publications to shut down, just as American political sentiment is starting to turn towards equality once again.

In spite of previous (and embarrassingly newsworthy!) bickering between parts of Atlanta's LGBT community, is still here, and will be here to help in whatever ways we can. Please don't hesitate to call on us if there is some way we can help you during this time.