Kasim Reed and gay marriage

Southern Voice, a newspaper geared toward gay and lesbians in Atlanta, is up today with a question-and-answer session with Kasim Reed, the state senator and Atlanta mayoral candidate.

The matter of gay marriage separates Reed from other leading candidates, including City Council President Lisa Borders and Councilwoman Mary Norwood.

Southern Voice saved a question on the topic for last:

SV: At an LGBT forum you said that you support civil unions while the other candidates support full marriage equality. You’ve clarified your views in subsequent conversations. Would you like to re-address that issue?

Reed: I would like to make it crystal clear that I believe in full legal equality as I have shared with you before, that I am adamantly opposed to discrimination in my personal life and am opposed it when it comes to equality.

And I also to say that this: I hope that the 11-year record on almost every — no not almost — every single issue of importance that I have been involved with in the Georgia state capitol as a representative and as a senator is not tossed aside because on this issue I’m in a different place.

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33 comments Add your comment


August 28th, 2009
4:20 pm


August 28th, 2009
4:26 pm

Well said, I to support legal civil unions…in light of all the mess from yesterday with Borders, I am glad to see Mr. Reid separating himself from the pack.

John Stevens

August 28th, 2009
4:40 pm

Huge political mistake for Reed. The only candidate that doesn’t publically support gay marriage. He’ll never win a city wide election in the City without the gay vote. Welcome to life after politics Mr. Reed.

Knew it

August 28th, 2009
4:41 pm

There’s always been speculation that Kasim is gay. I think this strenghtens that idea. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Not So Fast

August 28th, 2009
5:03 pm

@John Stevens Hmmm… Interesting take. However, I would wager that Reed has done more for LGBT community than any other individual in this race. The Senator has an 11 year track record (count them, I repeat, 11 years) of supporting the LGBT — whether it be sponsoring Hate Crimes legislation, passing mandatory HIV testing legislation for inmates, or opposing every single measure to ban adoption by gay and lesbian couples. I challenge you to look at a candidate’s RECORD of performance before making the assumption that the Senator does not have the support many LGBT people in the city of Atlanta.


August 28th, 2009
5:09 pm

Didn’t Reed vote against a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage?

Yes So Fast

August 28th, 2009
5:11 pm

Separate but equal didn’t work in the past and it doesn’t work now. Senator Reed is not running statewide, he is not even running metro-wide, he is running in a universe of voters that is the city of Atlanta which has a giant LGBT population. He is now directly at odds with this vital constituency.

John Stevens

August 28th, 2009
5:12 pm

NSF, you may be right. However, the attention span of voters is very short. Gay marriage is one of those hot button issues that will stand out. I guess we will see, but I think he made a mistake.


August 28th, 2009
5:17 pm

I give Reed credit for standing his ground and not pandering. From what I understand, his record proves that he’s always been supportive of the LGBT community. He’ll get knocked around for this, but it shows character.

Donny Fairplay

August 28th, 2009
6:29 pm

i can appreciate that kasim is standing his ground. it shows character. however, i would prefer a mayor with character and who’s right on the issues. you have to be a mayor of the entire city and that includes gay residents, mr. reed.

[...] post:  Kasim Reed and gay marriage | Political Insider AKPC_IDS += “1346,”;Popularity: unranked [...]


August 28th, 2009
6:56 pm

*yawn* Sorry, Reed. My LGBT brethren and I see through your schtick. You don’t have our vote.

Voters for Equal Rights

August 28th, 2009
11:28 pm

Sorry Kasim… I was undecided until now. I thought the three major candidates were about the same but I know now that I cannot vote for you.


August 29th, 2009
12:37 am

What power does the Mayor’s office have in regard to Gay rights?

Politics At Its Finest

August 29th, 2009
7:43 am

Interesting that so many people are now “against” him for this.

FYI: This is a STATE issue and the State of Georgia is never going to go for gay marriage. He shares the views of MOST of the GA population. Put it on a ballot and the people of this state will vote it down every time.

Now, let’s talk about the CITY issues that are relevant for a mayoral race.


August 29th, 2009
10:17 am

I find it funny that that the responses to this seem to be about 50/50. Half are taking his statement as a sign of support of GLBT and the other half seems to take it as an insult. So I guess that means that he more or less said NOTHING.

Donny Fairplay

August 29th, 2009
10:20 am

equal rights is an issue that goes far beyond the state. it speaks to who you are as an individual and how you will lead all of the people. if i fundamentally dont think that someone is a person, how can i serve them?

Gavin Newsom is a good example

August 29th, 2009
11:07 am

Mayors can do a lot to push for equal rights. They can also hurt the struggle and revert to “separate but equal” which I’m why I’m so sad that Kasim will not stand for equality. I encourage him to reconsider his stance. He is a young man and this will come back to haunt him for years to come. He is on the wrong side of history. One day, even Georgia will come around on this issue. For now, we have to settle for, and be grateful for the majority of the citizens of Atlanta who support our LGBT brothers and sisters. Reconsider and come join us Kasim. I believe you will eventually, why not now?


August 29th, 2009
1:09 pm

Sounds like it’s time for the gay community to wake up, if this blog is a fair example of their views.

Politicians generally don’t say what they believe; they say what they believe the not-so-bright voters will buy. Look at the candidates and see what they’ve done in the past. It’s the only way to tell what they’ll do in the future.

I don’t like Reed, but with his comments, which seem more honest than most politicians, he stepped out front for me. He decided to tell the truth instead of pander for votes.

If you’re dumb enough to simply believe a politician because they said something you like to hear, I hope you can’t make it to the polls come election day.

Can you explain your “separate but equal” comment GNis a GE? If gays are allowed to create a life partner contract, which is defined by law as having the same rights and responsibilities as the contract of marriage, how can that be a problem?… I’ve always wondered that.. There is no funding that can be cut, so no inequalities can creep in– not at city level.

I guess you would have to get the IRS to agree, though, but that shouldn’t be too difficult.

Gavin Newsom is a good example

August 29th, 2009
4:13 pm

Mike: I’ll be happy to explain “separate but equal.” I hope you can hear me from my seat in the back of the bus. We have tried it so many times in so many ways. Your water fountain might look just like mine but the very fact that you (as the majority) make me drink from a another one (as we did in recent modern history) is just wrong. Marriage is even more precious than buses and water fountains. So much so, we even allow it for prisoners, but not for gay people.

There are tons of resources for me to show you. Here is something from a lady named Kathy Belge. She notes that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court ruled that creating a separate class for gay and lesbian citizens is not permissible and that is why they have voted that only marriage equals marriage. The precedent was set with Brown v. The Board of Education regarding segregation in public education. Ironically, Massachusetts marriage law went into effect on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.

Even with lesbian and gay marriages being performed and recognized in some states, the Federal Defense of Marriage Law (which will probably soon be ruled unconstitutional) prohibits the federal government from recognizing gay and lesbian relationships. This puts gay and lesbian couples who are married in a legal limbo. How do they file their tax returns? Do they have to pay the tax on their partner’s health insurance? How do they fill out legal and other forms, single or married? The GAO has also done a study that identifies about a thousand rights that marriage bestows.

Civil Unions just can’t and don’t come anywhere near equaling this bedrock concept of marriage. Fifteen or twenty years ago, Kasim could have been congratulated for being in favor offering “separate but equal” to such a maligned constituency. However, our society has progressed so much in that short period of time that he has been left behind. Not only is he out of step with Atlanta voters but he is WAY out of step with his age group and those slightly younger than he. This is what disappoints me most. He should know better. He should be better on this issue. Therefore, he is my third choice in this race for Mayor behind the two major candidates who do support equal rights.


August 29th, 2009
4:53 pm

Great comments!

Kate OHanlan MD

August 29th, 2009
5:08 pm

The American Psychiatric Association has confirmed that sexual orientation is natural, biologically induced, morally neutral, immutable, neither contagious nor learned and has no relation to an individual’s ability to form deep and lasting relationships, to parent children, to work or to contribute to society.

The American Psychological Association states that homosexuality and homosexual relationships are normal.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have all endorsed civil marriage for same-sex couples because marriage strengthens the mental and physical health and the longevity of couples, and provides greater legal and financial security for children, parents and seniors.

When America’s premier child and mental health associations and their expert panels endorse marriage equality, there is thus no ethical reason to discriminate against gay people and their children.

The U.S. Census reveals that one-third of America’s same-sex families are raising children, with the same responsibilities of any American family, needing and deserving all the same financial, legal and social protections that current marriage laws provides.

Children should learn that same-sex marriage equals opposite-sex marriage because they need to know that all American families are equal in the eyes of the law.

Three percent of every generation of children from every culture will always realize that they are gay. The question that we need to ask ourselves is: what are we doing to make the world a safer and more welcoming place for them?

Those associations have reviewed the research and made policy statements that are for the good of America. They represent more than 400,000 mental health and child health specialists. No mainstream credible medical or mental health associations have any different opinions.

All the published evidence says one thing: marriage is good for Americans, and that it should be available to all American adults.


August 29th, 2009
8:54 pm

First is the obvious and overbearing answer: Anyone can marry. Even gay people can marry. They just have to marry someone of the opposite sex, just like straights. A trite and very irritating statement to gays, I would venture to guess, but although very incomplete, there is a modicum of validity to the words. Bottom line is, there is factual and legal equality…no one can marry someone of their own gender.

The point of that statement is, you are fighting a fight which may bring about more trouble than the small gay population in this nation can handle. If a civil union–I magnify the word IF– can offer the same benefits that marriage does, with the only difference being what it is called, where is the loss? Marriage is a contract, often broken, but still a contract. So, then, would be the civil union. The terms would be the same legally. To me, the “back of the bus” and “separate but equal” arguments hold no water. No one is relegating gays to a lesser social status (gays permeate society and are not held back anywhere I know of) nor withholding funding for them (last I heard, gays have income levels a little higher than straights). Can you explain specifically how the two comparisons apply with respect to gay marriage?

Most religions are at least anti-gay marriage. You may never overcome that simple fact. History has shown that, religion may be one of the only things which can make a person willing to die for a cause– (suicide bombers and the like) “no same gender marriage” is one of those causes (I’ll bet you already knew that).

With all that said, I firmly believe it should be a state or local level matter to vote for or against gay marriage. It won’t devalue my marriage either way. However, the feds should have absolutely no say in the matter– it’s not in the constitution one way or another.

I’ll close this with: If you’d rather have a politician tell you what you want to hear, even if it’s a lie, rather than have one give you a half-hearted, but honest, opinion, I feel for you. It would behoove you to check out their records, rather than simply believe because it sounded good to you.

I’m not trying to bash; I’m honestly trying to understand.


August 29th, 2009
9:04 pm

Just to add something in interest of honesty: I don’t buy the contention that gay is normal, but it’s not my business unless someone wants me to be gay (which they don’t). I believe it is evil. however, we’re in a country which is a nation of laws. We’ve created a system of laws which give people certain rights simply by being married.

My heart is in the Constitution and the form of government we embrace (or should embrace). If gays can’t get the same rights from civil unions, I am all for gay marriage because more than anything else I believe we should all be treated equal in all matters of law. I don’t have to like what someone else is doing to believe it should be protected equally. Should that arise, I would fight for your right to “marry” whoever you wish. How does that settle with you?


August 30th, 2009
2:44 pm

Mike, I respect your questions about the difference between gay marriage and civil unions. Here is an article that I think sums it up best.

The Difference between Gay Marriage and Civil Unions

by Kathy Belge

You hear the politicians saying it all the time. “I support Civil Unions, but not gay marriage.” What exactly does this mean? Some even say they support equal rights for gays and lesbians, but not gay marriage. Is this possible? And why do gays and lesbians want marriage so badly when they can have civil unions?

First of all, What is Marriage? When people marry, they tend to do so for reasons of love and commitment. But marriage is also a legal status, which comes with rights and responsibilities. Marriage establishes a legal kinship between you and your spouse. It is a relationship that is recognized across cultures, countries and religions.

What is a Civil Union? Civil Unions exist in only a handful of places: Vermont, New Jersey and Connecticut. California and Oregon have domestic partnership laws that offer many of the same rights as civil unions.

Vermont civil unions were created in 2000 to provide legal protections to gays and lesbians in relationships in that state because gay marriage is not an option. The protections do not extend beyond the border of Vermont and no federal protections are included with a Civil Union. Civil Unions offer some of the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, but only on a state level.

What about Domestic partnership? Some states and municipalities have domestic partnership registries, but no domestic partnership law is the same. Some, like the recently passed California domestic partnership law comes with many rights and responsibilities. Others, like the one in Washingtonoffer very few benefits to the couple.

What are some of the differences between Civil Unions and Gay Marriage?

Recognition in other states: Even though each state has its own laws around marriage, if someone is married in one state and moves to another, their marriage is legally recognized. For example, Oregon marriage law applies to people 17 and over. In Washington state, the couple must be 18 to wed. However, Washington will recognize the marriage of two 17 year olds from Oregon who move there. This is not the case with Civil Unions. If someone has a Civil Union in Vermont, that union is not recognized in any other state. As a matter of fact, two states, Connecticut and Georgia, have ruled that they do not have to recognize civil unions performed in Vermont, because their states have no such legal category. As gay marriages become legal in other states, this status may change.

Dissolving a Civil Union v. Divorce:

Vermont has no residency requirement for Civil Unions. That means two people from any other state or country can come there and have a civil union ceremony. If the couple breaks up and wishes to dissolve the union, one of them must be a resident of Vermont for one year before the Civil Union can be dissolved in family court. Married couples can divorce in any state they reside, no matter where they were married.


A United States citizen who is married can sponsor his or her non-American spouse for immigration into this country. Those with Civil Unions have no such privilege.


Civil Unions are not recognized by the federal government, so couples would not be able to file joint-tax returns or be eligible for tax breaks or protections the government affords to married couples.


The General Accounting Office in 1997 released a list of 1,049 benefits and protections available to heterosexual married couples. These benefits range from federal benefits, such as survivor benefits through Social Security, sick leave to care for ailing partner, tax breaks, veterans benefits and insurance breaks. They also include things like family discounts, obtaining family insurance through your employer, visiting your spouse in the hospital and making medical decisions if your partner is unable to. Civil Unions protect some of these rights, but not all of them.

But can’t a lawyer set all this up for gay and lesbian couples?

No. A lawyer can set up some things like durable power of attorney, wills and medical power of attorney. There are several problems with this, however.

1. It costs thousands of dollars in legal fees. A simple marriage license, which usually costs under $100 would cover all the same rights and benefits.

2. Any of these can be challenged in court. As a matter of fact, more wills are challenged than not. In the case of wills, legal spouses always have more legal power than any other family member.

3. Marriage laws are universal. If someone’s husband or wife is injured in an accident, all you need to do is show up and say you’re his or her spouse. You will not be questioned. If you show up at the hospital with your legal paperwork, the employees may not know what to do with you. If you simply say, “He’s my husband,” you will immediately be taken to your spouse’s side.
Defense of Marriage Law

Even with lesbian and gay marriages being performed and recognized in some states, the Federal Defense of Marriage Law prohibits the federal government from recognizing gay and lesbian relationships. This puts gay and lesbian couples who are married in a legal limbo. How do they file their tax returns? Do they have to pay the tax on their partner’s health insurance? How do they fill out legal and other forms, single or married?

Creating Civil Unions creates a separate and unequal status for some of America’s citizens. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court ruled that creating a separate class for gay and lesbian citizens is not permissible and that is why they have voted that only marriage equals marriage. The precedent was set with Brown v. The Board of Education regarding segregation in public education. Ironically, Massachusetts marriage law went into effect on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.

The United States Constitution guarantees equality for all. As you can see, marriage and civil unions are not the same. Creating equal access to marriage is the only fair way to ensure equality for gay and straight couples alike.


August 30th, 2009
9:07 pm

As I read your post and think about it, I believe you are right about gay marriage; either it’s marriage or it’s not. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock or something, but no one has ever explained the situation as you have. I’ve not watsted the day; I’ve learned something. So, barring any other information to the contrary, I am forced by fairness to agree with you, that gays should be allowed to marry whom they wish.

However, it does not negate the fact that politicians lie and I’d watch closely at those who say what you like and do what you don’t like. The age-old adage “actions speak louder than words” seems more than appropriate.


August 31st, 2009
12:27 pm

Should I assume then that all the pro gay marriage rights activists therefore would not have a problem with polygamous marriages either? If it is a matter of equality of all and marriage in and of itself is such a subjective arrangement or relationship based on the love and commitment of the parties involved, why then should there be discrimination against those families as well?


August 31st, 2009
4:31 pm

Good for Kasim. It makes me far more likely to vote for him.


August 31st, 2009
6:52 pm

I find it ironic there cam be a Gay Agenda but not a Black Agenda. Someone please tel me why Gays can have an ajenda but Blacks cannot?


September 1st, 2009
9:41 am

It’s not a “Gay Agenda”. It’s about getting equal rights. We pay our taxes like everyone else, we expect to get the same benefits as everyone else.


September 17th, 2009
9:42 pm

It comes down to the vote. I appreciate his honesty. It’s a rarity in politics. Nevertheless, it clarified that I should not vote for him. Gay marriage is important to me. Vote for what’s important to you.


October 5th, 2009
10:02 pm

Enter your comments hereYes, he did oppose a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage because he thought ti was pointless…
It does not mean that he supports gay marriage–it means he tought that the amendment was unnecesary as the state already doesn’t recognize gay marriage.


November 16th, 2009
9:33 am

While I do believe in same sex marriage it will may never happen in Georgia. Who can actually change the law? With our House and Senate mostly Republican it never has the chance to change. Why do we sit here wasting our breath about it. When are we going to learn if we want full equality we have to start somewhere. Should we have to settle for something less like civil unions absolutely not but you know what. That stands a much better chance of passing than anything so why have we not tried? The most important question we should be asking our politicians is do and will you support civil unions for the LGBT community. If you can get that hurdle passed with all the same benefits does it really matter what you call it? Are you serious? Are we fighting over a word? We want the rights no matter what you call it. And you know what. It is easy to say you support something that you will not have to be held accountable for while in office.