Mary Norwood says she backs gay marriage

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imageMary Norwood, one of three major candidates to become Atlanta’s next mayor, issued a statement Tuesday affirming her support for same-sex unions.

Norwood, along with state Sen. Kasim Reed and City Council President Lisa Borders, took part in a meet and greet with LGBT voters on Thursday. Norwood left before the candidates were asked for a one-word answer on whether they supported gay marriage. Borders said yes and Reed replied “civil unions.” That answer, according to Southern Voice, drew some boos from the audience.

Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders, Atlanta City Councilmember Mary Norwood, state Sen. Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta), former Atlanta finance manager Glenn Thomas, and attorney Jessie Spikes all attended. Thomas left before the forum began, while Norwood left after making an opening comment. Spikes, Reed and Borders all answered questions from the crowd of some 200 people.

Reed set off a flurry of discussion among gay politicos with a two-word answer to a short question. Kyle Bailey, director of chapter and national development for the Stonewall Democrats, asked for a one-word answer to whether the candidates supported allowing same-sex couples to marry. Borders and Spikes both said yes; Reed answered “civil unions.” His answer was met with hissing and booing from the crowd.

During the forum, Borders and Reed stressed past records of supporting gay rights.

In the statement, Norwood says she left the meet and greet early due to a scheduling conflict. On Tuesday, she spoke strongly in favor of same-sex unions.

A family is a family. All committed couples deserve the same legal protections as any other. 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.

I have always supported the City of Atlanta’s measures that provide the same domestic partners’ benefits, protections, and recognitions to all long-term unions. Just as I have supported our City’s efforts, I would endorse and publicly urge passage of a state measure that would allow gays and lesbians to marry. Anything less is out of keeping with Atlanta’s history of openness and our celebration of diversity.

There will be disagreement. Not every church, for example, will want to host wedding ceremonies. No church should be forced to marry anyone, but all churches that wish to marry gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to do so. And throughout Atlanta today, there are churches, pastors, and congregations here looking forward to one day holding marriage ceremonies uniting our gay and lesbian neighbors.

Prior to her statement Tuesday, Norwood also did not respond to a survey by Project Q Atlanta contributing blogger Patrick Saunders, who quizzed the candidates on marriage and other LGBT issues.

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