If you were hoping that President Obama’s backing of gay marriage this week would prod Mayor Kasim Reed to evolve—we not so subtly hoped for just that on Thursday—don’t hold your breath. Atlanta’s gay-friendly CEO isn’t quite ready to embrace gay nuptials.
Reed’s collected a long track record of backing LGBT issues as a state lawmaker. But gay marriage—twice banned in Georgia—became a flashpoint in Reed’s 2009 mayoral campaign. Opponents all around him backed it; he stopped short with support for civil unions.
After basking in Obama’s surprise announcement on Wednesday that the gays “should be able to get married,” we wondered on Thursday when Reed would end his gay marriage cowardice. Later that day, his office issued a response:
“I respect President Obama’s decision to stand in support of marriage equality. I have fought hard for the rights of gays and lesbians my entire political career from protecting adoption rights for gay and lesbian families, to voting against Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage as a state senator, to serving as the state house sponsor for the only hate crimes bill ever passed in the state of Georgia. While I am still wrestling with my own personal beliefs on the issue of marriage, I deeply appreciate the contributions gays and lesbians make to our city every single day and I remain committed to Atlanta’s vibrant and diverse LGBT community.”
Obama’s support for gay marriage did prompt an Atlanta teacher and activist to launch a Facebook group to urge Reed to evolve faster. Mayor Reed, It’s Time to “Evolve” on Marriage Equality has attracted nearly 3,200 members and dozens of comments since its creation on Wednesday.
“As the Mayor of one of America’s ‘gayest’ cities, Mayor Reed should affirm the rights of loving LGBT couples to honor their relationships by getting married,” group creator Charlie Stadtlander wrote. “Almost all LGBT Atlantans know that Mayor Reed stands shoulder to shoulder with us in our fight for equality. Mayor Reed now has the opportunity to ‘bring it home,’ by endorsing marriage equality for LGBT families and showing the world that Atlanta loves its gays!”
Stadtlander supported former Atlanta City Council member Mary Norwood in the 2009 mayoral campaign. Her support of same-sex marriage became a defining issue in the mayoral runoff, which she narrowly lost to Reed.