Atlanta mayor creates LGBTQ advisory board, inclusion office

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms — who embraced LGBT issues during her campaign — is turning to putting those promises into concrete actions, announcing the creation of a new office of diversity and inclusion and an LGBTQ advisory board.

Bottoms announced the actions on Wednesday during her first State of the City address.

She pledged to create the city’s first-ever Mayor’s Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, also known as One Atlanta. That office “will work to ensure equitable, open and inclusive practices across all city departments and functions” and “is also working to shine light on our forgotten communities and build a bridge towards inclusiveness,” Bottoms said.

The mayor also announced the formation of the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, which “will help guide the city’s engagement with our LGBTQ residents, neighbors, and friends,” she said.

Details on One Atlanta and the LGBTQ advisory board will be unveiled soon, administration officials told Project Q Atlanta.

Bottoms also touted several accomplishments during her first 100 days in the speech on Wednesday and devoted a significant amount of time to ethics and transparency. The comments came as her administration is awash in alarming reports about the closing months of the term of her predecessor, Mayor Kasim Reed.

Those reports included the Reed administration’s efforts to delay the release of public records, lavish credit card purchases, subpoenas in a federal bribery investigation and the revelation that more than $500,000 in bonuses and gifts were doled out at an “executive holiday party” at City Hall just days before Reed left office.

Bottoms closed her speech by talking about how Atlanta residents can help enhance the city, quoting the late lesbian poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde to illustrate her point: “Our visions begin with our desires.”

Fate of Atlanta's LGBT top cop still unclear

Bottoms didn't address the fate of police Chief Erika Shields (second photo), the first-ever openly lesbian head of the Atlanta Police Department. Shields, like all top officials from Reed's administration, submitted her resignation to Bottoms but the new mayor has yet to accept or reject it. Bottoms was one of only two candidates to pledge to keep Shields when the question was posed at a mayoral forum hosted by the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce last summer.

Bottoms told Project Q in an interview last fall that she is a “big fan” of Shields.

“I think that she's done a phenomenal job and I think that Chief Shields would be a great police chief under my administration,” Bottoms said. “She would certainly be at the top of my list as a candidate to continue as police chief.”

Bottoms made a number of promises to the city’s LGBT community during last year’s campaign, including appointing a public health director so the city can take a more active role in public health issues, including HIV. She also said Atlanta should be a “safe haven” for homeless LGBT youth and called for more housing to help address the issue. Bottoms said Atlanta should be “the voice of reason” for the state on LGBT issues.

Upon taking office, Bottoms announced a 38-member transition team, which included only one LGBT person — Raphael Bostic, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Bottoms is scheduled to speak on Saturday at the 31st Annual HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner & Auction.


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