State’s high court looks at gay unions

imageYou can bet that when Leah Ward Sears, the progressive chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, planned a national summit on marriage, she didn't know it would coincide with a national uproar over same-sex unions in the wake of three more states approving gay marriage bans earlier this month.

Nevertheless, Sears held firm that the summit would include a discussion of the contentious issue when the court's Commission on Children, Marriage and Family Law held the two-day session this week.

Though the event included the Institute for American Values, whose president opposes same-sex unions, a panel discussion Wednesday also included a leading proponent of gay marriage, Jonathan Rauch, who wrote "Gay Marriage: Why it is God for Gays, Good for Straights and Good for America."

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Study: Lesbians more concerned about economy than gay men

imageThe economic malaise gripping the nation is making lesbians feel more vulnerable, though both lesbians and gay men say they are trimming their spending, according to a new poll.

Some three out of four lesbians say they feel the impact of the economic downturn will affect them and households like theirs more than others, compared to 60 percent of heterosexual women and 55 percent of gay men, according to an online Harris Interactive poll of 2,249 adults. Some 232 people in the study self-indentified as gay or lesbian.

When asked if they are reducing their spending for entertainment, 44 percent of lesbians said yes compared to 24 percent of gay men, according to the study.

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Gay chamber fetes ‘perfect’ firms

imageThe Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce held its Wow Wednesday last week to fete a handful of Atlanta-based companies that get it right when it comes to equality.

The Nov. 12 event celebrated companies headquartered locally that scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's recent Corporate Equality Index, including Cox Enterprises/Cox Communications, ING North American Insurance, Newell Rubbermaid, SunTrust Banks and United Parcel Service. Other Georgia companies that scored a 100 include Alston & Bird, ChoicePoint, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Powell Goldstein, and Troutman Sanders. Read more about the report.

View the Project Q Atlanta photo album from the event. (Photos by Lynn McStatts/Personal Paparazzi ATL and courtesy AGLCC.)

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Rallies in Atlanta set for Saturday

imageIt’s been four years since gay marriage was a contentious issue in Georgia, but the hot button affair becomes front and center again on Saturday.

At least two events are planned in Atlanta as part of a national day of action through Join the Impact, a grassroots group that formed in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex unions that California voters approved Nov. 4.

A rally is set for 1:30 p.m. at the State Capitol followed by a candlelight vigil at the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue at 5 p.m. There is also an event in Athens at 1:30 p.m.

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Obama may benefit rights museum

The planned Center for Civil & Human Rights in downtown Atlanta might receive a boost from the election of the nation's first African-American president.

The gay-inclusive center, set to open in 2011 at Centennial Olympic Park, could benefit from Obama's election as it works to raise $125 million in private dollars for construction, center officials told the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The center's director, Doug Shipman, has said that the center will include gay and lesbian issues in "a couple of different places."

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Marriage protest brewing in Atlanta

imageA protest is brewing in Atlanta as part of an effort for a national action by gay men and lesbians over the passage of same-sex marriage bans in California last week.

Join the Impact is attempting to organize actions in cities across the U.S. on Nov. 15 to call attention to the passage of Proposition 8, which puts in place a marriage ban in California after 18,000 gay couples married earlier this year.

In Atlanta, about three dozen people have said they plan to participate in a protest on Saturday, according to a Facebook page with details of the event. The Atlanta March for Human Rights is scheduled for 5 p.m. at 10th and Piedmont in Midtown. The event coincides with protests scheduled in cities across the country, including New York, Cleveland, St. Louis, New Orleans. Boston and Philadelphia.

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Craigslist cracking down on escorts

Craigslist — the wildly popular site used to find jobs, look for places to live and order sex like pizza — is cracking down on the people behind its "erotic services" category.

In an agreement struck with 40 states, including Georgia, the San Francisco-based company will now require anyone posting an ad in "erotic services" to provide a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card. The web site says it will also turn over any of that information to law enforcement agencies armed with a subpoena.

It's a dramatic change for the site, which attracts 40 million people a month and posts 30 million ads, but has resisted calls for it to police its content. The company has a staff of less than 30 people.

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Georgia Equality rallies its supporters

imageGeorgia Equality held its fall fundraiser on Wednesday, drawing a lively crowd to Einstein's.

A few candidates also attended "Rally the Vote," including Fulton County State Court Judge Susan Edlein. Georgia Equality endorsed a handful of judicial candidates and General Assembly candidates earlier this month.

Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders headlined the event. And Sen. Barack Obama provided a treat for his gay supporters in the crowd, as his 30-minute infomercial hit the airwaves at 8 p.m. and was broadcast on several large televisions in the bar at Einstein's as "Rally the Vote" was wrapping up.

View the Project Q Atlanta photo album from the event.

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Lawmakers want trans suit dropped

imageA trio of Georgia lawmakers wants a federal judge to drop a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee who says she was fired after announcing her gender transition.

Vandiver Elizabeth Glenn (photo) argues she was fired from her position as a legislative editor last year when the lawmakers learned of her transition from male to female, according to Southern Voice. She named House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram), Senate President Pro-Tempore Eric Johnson (R-Savannah), Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, lawyer Sewell Brumby and Robyn Underwood, the state’s legislative financial officer, in her lawsuit.

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Atlanta police sued by HIV-poz recruit

A man is suing the Atlanta Police Department, charging that he was secretly tested for HIV and dumped when the department discovered he is HIV-positive.

The man filed a federal lawsuit that also alleges that Atlanta police have a policy of not hiring people with HIV, though the department says that's not true. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, though, says internal police documents appear to contradict the department's claim.

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Conn. Supreme Court OKs gay unions

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The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, making the state the third in the U.S. that allows gay unions.

The 4-3 ruling says that gay and lesbian couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry under the state constitution, and Connecticut's civil unions law does not provide those couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.    READ MORE »

Potty bust revisited: Day Three

A Clayton County prosecutor now says she's ready to move forward with a potty sex case arising from an arrest at the Atlanta airport. No matter that the case sat stagnant since Ed Wall's arrest in March 2007 until media reports this week that Wall was hired by Clayton County for financial advice.

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In the Life issues call for new energy

In the Life Atlanta, an organizer of Atlanta's Black Pride festival each September, issued a call for volunteers today.

The organization is seeking applications for board directors, committee chairs and volunteers to help "reform, restructure and rebrand our organization," the group says in a press release.

"It is our goal to recruit a diverse talent pool of men, women and youth who will help us leverage grassroots and professional resources that add value to LGBT people of African descent and the communities where we live."


The board is looking for experience in several areas, including resource development, accounting and finance, marketing, graphic design, web development, human resources and small business development.

Applications are due Nov. 8.    READ MORE »

Potty bust revisited: Day Two

imageEd Wall's legal troubles are getting a re-airing this week thanks to his new role advising Clayton County on its finances.

Wall was busted in a restroom at the Atlanta airport in March 2007 and was charged with pubic indecency over allegations that he was nabbed having oral sex with another man. Police also say Wall was masturbating while watching an officer urinate. Wall, then the board chair MARTA, stepped aside from that spot but retains his MARTA board seat.

Earlier this week, the investment banker was formerly tapped by Clayton commissioners for his advice on finances, something Wall has done on and off since 1988.

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Ex-MARTA chief surfaces in Clayton

There is life after a Larry Craig-like bust for potty problems.

Ed Wall, the former MARTA board chair, was hired Tuesday to provide financial advice to Clayton County. Wall stepped aside as MARTA chair, though he remains on the board, after his arrest last year on allegations that he had sex with another man in a bathroom stall at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Hall has pleaded not guilty and the case is pending, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Soulforce on the way to Atlanta

imageSoulforce's Equality Ride hits Atlanta later this week, bringing its youth-organized bus tour to Morehouse College on Thursday and Spellman College on Friday.

The ride to faith-based colleges opened Oct. 1 with a stop at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., before making its way to Columbia, S.C. and Columbia International University on Monday.

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Trans woman reacts to court ruling

imageMichelle Bruce, the transgender woman at the center of a lawsuit that reached the Georgia Supreme Court, spoke out today about the case.

On Monday, the court ruled in favor of Bruce in a lawsuit that alleged she misled voters because she is transgendered. She reacted to the decision today in a statement issued by Georgia Equality, the statewide gay rights group.

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Court rules for trans Ga. official

imageThe Georgia Supreme Court today ruled in favor of Michelle Bruce, a transgendered former member of the Riverdale City Council who faced a lawsuit over allegations that she misled constituents.

The Georgia Supreme Court's unanimous ruling on Monday found that the two political opponents who filed the lawsuit failed to produce evidence of fraud, misconduct or illegal action after claiming that Michelle Bruce bamboozled voters by identifying herself as female.

"This is a great victory for me and anyone who believes in equality," Bruce said in a statement. "It gives me hope that the Georgia Supreme Court did what was right and did not buy into hate-based politics."


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Pride announces late June festival

Sometimes in news, the first information isn't always the best.

That's the case with the announcement today that the Atlanta Pride Festival will be held in late June 2009.

Yesterday, Project Q Atlanta reported that the festival was set for June 19-21, based on information posted on the Atlanta Pride Committee's web site. But apparently, those dates were released prematurely and Pride officials retracted them this morning.

In a release issued earlier today, Pride formally announced the dates -- this time, for real -- June 26-28. Those dates return the festival to its traditional late June home and put it on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event pointed to as the beginning of the modern gay civil rights era.

Read the full story from Project Q Atlanta.    READ MORE »

Pride 2009 goes to Central Park

The Atlanta Pride Festival shifts to Central Park next year, taking advantage of indoor space from the Atlanta Civic Center and the outdoor venues that festival-goers seems to enjoy so much.

The decision came this morning as Pride officials huddled with organizers of other large-scale festivals that were all booted from Piedmont Park this year over the city's drought-related restrictions.

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