Reed, Norwood exchange barbs over gay issues

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imageKasim Reed will head to the heart of the gayborhood Wednesday to respond to charges from LGBT supporters of Mary Norwood that his lack of support for marriage equality is an insult to gay families.

Reed’s campaign announced a press conference Wednesday in a Piedmont Avenue parking lot that sits between two popular gay spots — Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse and Blake’s on the Park. Reed is expected to be joined by several LGBT supporters, City Council President Lisa Borders and state Sen. Nan Orrock at the 1:30 p.m. event.

From the Reed campaign:

At the press conference, Norwood’s non-existent voting record on LGBT issues will be challenged while supporters will remind voters of Reed’s 11 year history of voting on issues important to the LGBT community including hate crimes legislation, employment non-discrimination act (ENDA), support of adoption rights by gay parents and other pieces of legislation.

The press conference comes in response to a three-page document circulated this week by a group called Our Community Concerned About GLBT Families. It lists some 30 prominent LGBT activists and leaders, including Randy New, Jeff Cleghorn, Ken Britt, Lawrie Demorest, Lee Kyser, Sharon Semmens, Bob Glascock and Michael Aycock.

Kasim Reed’s anti marriage equality position is not only an insult to the thousands of tax paying gay and lesbian Atlantans, his position represents a step backwards for a City which is currently led by Shirley Franklin, who favors marriage equality. Like many of you, we are disappointed in this year’s race, and not just for Senator Reed’s position, the party’s intervention, and the lock step support from party faithful. The Democratic Party of Georgia asks gays and lesbians to compromise on marriage equality in voting for Reed this year, while doing nothing elsewhere to improve the discriminatory treatment we feel from state government. No member of the Democratic caucus has introduced legislation to repeal the 2004 anti marriage equality amendment; nor to create a parallel structure of Civil Unions, nor domestic partnerships, nor any other advance. Is it any wonder gays and lesbians are – for the first time in memory – ignoring the party’s candidate endorsement to support the pro marriage equality, Mary Norwood?

A candidate’s capacity for empathy with his or her constituency is an important consideration in any election. Senator Reed is not married, and he has no children. While being unmarried and childless in no way disqualifies someone from serving effectively in office, it does prevent Senator Reed from empathizing with the families affected by his refusal to support equality. Were Senator Reed placed in a situation where his spouse or, even worse, his children were denied the rights enjoyed by others, and was told it was simply because the religious beliefs of those in power don’t allow for an inclusive view of equality, he would be as offended and hurt and angry as we are.

Read the full statement from GLBT Families. (pdf)

imageReed and Norwood are locked in a heated fight for LGBT votes.

Norwood has been on the offensive since she topped the field in the Nov. 3 election. She took 46 percent of the vote, but it wasn’t the 50 percent plus one vote needed to take the mayor’s office at City Hall. So LGBT supporters have been vocal about highlighting that Norwood backs same-sex marriage and Reed stops short by backing civil unions.

They did it again Wednesday at a rally and fundraiser that attracted a crowd of about 400 people to a Midtown gay bar. On Sunday, LGBT supporters say they raised $20,000 for Norwood at an invitation-only fundraiser.

Reed, which hosted its own LGBT event Friday, fired back Sunday during a debate on Georgia Public Broadcasting. The campaign, which has long argued that Reed’s track record on backing LGBT issues in the state legislature outweighs Norwood’s verbal support for full gay marriage, accused the two-term city council member of not voting–one of few chances she had to act on LGBT issues–when a partners’ rights vote came before her in 2006.


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