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.

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