Georgia Equality to stay out of ATL mayoral runoff

Georgia Equality, the state’s largest organization devoted to gay and lesbian rights, has decided to sit out the Atlanta mayoral runoff – and will endorse neither Councilwoman Mary Norwood or former state senator Kasim Reed.

“We feel that both candidates have a good track record of supporting pro-equality legislation,” GE executive director Jeff Graham.

Georgia Equality had endorsed City Council President Lisa Borders in the Nov. 3 contest.

The decision to stay neutral in the runoff is likely to benefit Reed, whose opposition to gay marriage – he supports civil unions – had put him at a disadvantage. Norwood supports marriage equality.

Graham said his group decided “there were not strong enough differences” between the two candidates to merit choosing one over the other – despite the same-sex marriage issue.
“We’re looking beyond that,” Graham said. “We always have.”

The gay vote in the runoff could be particularly important to both candidates. District 6 is generally thought to have the highest concentration of gay voters of any council district.
That council seat has also moved into a runoff between Alex Wan and Liz Coyle. Georgia Equality had stayed out of the first round of voting in that contest. But this afternoon, the organization endorsed Wan.

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46 comments Add your comment

Lisa Lisa

November 11th, 2009
1:26 pm

Mary’s done nothing for the LGBT community accept pander. Kasim Reed’s record speaks for itself – Hate crime legislation, opposing the amendment that would’ve banned gay marriage, etc.


November 11th, 2009
1:29 pm

I guess Mary Norwood couldn’t buy their endorsement like she did knaves Able Mable, Ralph Long and Glenn Thomas.

Lisa Lisa

November 11th, 2009
1:30 pm

Except not accept. Typo

So True

November 11th, 2009
1:33 pm

Since the office of Mayor has no jurisdiction over the creation of state/federal legislation regarding gay civil rights/marriage, I see no reason to base my choice for Mayor on these issues (though, be it known, I’m a gay man myself). I still support Norwood…and I also extend a big THANK YOU to Reed for his work in the state Senate, where he was in a more influential public office. Too bad he decided to leave the GA Assembly.


November 11th, 2009
1:41 pm

Collin: Care to disclose how much you’re getting paid by Reed?


November 11th, 2009
1:46 pm

So that loser Borders just decided to endorse Reed huh? Well who is surprised? She knew before she met with Reed and Norwood who she would endorse. “Dey gots ta stick togethea” ya know? Hopefully Atlanta has seen how bad black leadership can be. Go Mary!


November 11th, 2009
1:48 pm

…disappointing. I guess they were afraid of losing donations. My vote is still for Mary Norwood.

GA Equality = what a joke

November 11th, 2009
1:51 pm

I’m glad Georgia Equality is looking “beyond” gay marriage, as so many Americans seem to be doing. Great job Mr. Graham. With your impeccable leadership, Georgia will continue to be at the forefront of gay rights.

Grant Park

November 11th, 2009
2:02 pm

Georgia Equality’s non-endorsement makes no sense whatsoever.

James Doyle

November 11th, 2009
2:05 pm

Mayor Norwood is for Gay Marriage. She has many supporters in the gay community and does not let her religion meddle in way of supporting equal rights for all. I wish I could say the same for Kasim but unfortunately I cannot. Mary has been in attendance at Gay Pride for well over 6 years. MARY NORWOOD FOR MARRIAGE=MARY NORWOOD FOR MAYOR


November 11th, 2009
2:06 pm

I strongly disagree that GA Equality’s being neutral will benefit Reed …. How in the world do you come up with that ? Reed has openly expressed he is against gay marriage and I’m not so sure if given the opportunity would he endorse civil unions. He makes many of his decision based on the church and his religion. Norwood supports marriage equality. I’m so amazed sometimes what I read in the “Political Insider”.

James Doyle

November 11th, 2009
2:12 pm

Collin, go check out Reed’s ethical problems related to financial disclosures….paying fines for not filing the proper disclosures. Sound like Shirley franklin’s pension issue fine. Do you really think we need another mayor who cant seem to file paperwork in a timely fashion?

oh yeah

November 11th, 2009
2:13 pm

Lee – you hit the nail on the head —- despite openly expressing that he is against gay marriage, GA Equality feels that Kasim Reed is equal to Mary Norwood. That’s a big score for Reed…. essentially Georgia Equality is saying “look, so what if Kasim Reed is against Gay Marriage, you can still vote for him.” Reed went from potentially losing GA Equality’s endorsement to Mary Norwood to getting a “neutral” endorsement from GA Equality…. that’s definitely benefiting him. Wish you could do a better job understanding what you read in “Political Insider”


November 11th, 2009
2:22 pm

I’m kinda over this gay rights topic. TMI. Can we switch to a new issue for ATL? Like crime, taxes, etc. Something important…?

So True

November 11th, 2009
2:27 pm

I think it’s great that GA Equality was equal in their Equality. Indifference is different even if the different candidates are different. Their indecisive decision to be indifferent to difference helped me decide to be just as equal as their equality on different qualities in my decisive decision. WAY TO MOTIVATE! Two woot-woots for GA Equality!


November 11th, 2009
2:30 pm

So glad to see Georgia Equality added to Wan’s list of endorsements!


November 11th, 2009
2:32 pm

Oh Yeah, I understand how it can be a “big score” for Reed, I do understand the “neutral” endorsement….maybe you could do a better job in your communication skills.


November 11th, 2009
2:32 pm

I can tell you who I won’t be endorsing (supporting) this upcoming year – GEORGIA EQUALITY. What a useless organization.


November 11th, 2009
2:36 pm

Furthermore, as a gay man, GA Equality has no effect one way or the other on how I vote. I can make my own informed decisions.


November 11th, 2009
2:38 pm

In its indecision, GA Equality is simply hoping to avoid alienating non-homosexual, “same-gender-loving” blacks and the uptown clique of influential interior desecrators!


November 11th, 2009
2:42 pm

I’m voting for the white chick.


November 11th, 2009
2:50 pm

@Lee – Agreed; but you’d like to think that they’d grow a pair and pick the best candidate. Politics are shady and weakness is for losers. Great leadership, GA Equality. :-(


November 11th, 2009
3:10 pm

Matt, you’re dead on, this group is just weak and pandering. There is an obvious difference between the two candidates, matter of fact the number one issue that homosexuals keep bringing up (gay marriage) every year. So, perhaps now we can stop making gay marriage an issue since Georgia Equality found no difference between being for it or not.


November 11th, 2009
3:13 pm

Please, Atlanta voters, STOP the ‘mayor by inheritance’ machine and cast a vote for change, a new focus, a new direction, if you put Franklin, Borders and Reed in a bag and shook them up, one could not fall our because the other would be in the way. Don’t vote for a 3rd Franlin term, pump fresh blood into the city’s arteries!

Kevrock/Smarty Jones

November 11th, 2009
3:17 pm

why does all the gay and lesbian groups have the worst organizational skills? Look what happened in California? If you want a solid voice get better leadership. It’s actually worse than the NAACP.

So True

November 11th, 2009
3:24 pm

@Kevrock: It’s not that we have bad organizational skills, it’s just that the Big Cheeses in our prominent organizations are nothing but pompous pocket fillers and status A-List wannabes who focus more on what donors give than what they as an organization can do for the common good. Most gay people ignore these organizations because the organizations themselves are blind to the “average gay-joe’s” concerns and goals. It’s nothing more than a “Look at me! I’m an important, high-class gay! People want to know me and give me freebies” scene. So I agree with you that they lack initiative and motivation.


November 11th, 2009
3:30 pm

@So True – add in “cracked-out Circuit queens”. Seriously where is the fight left in people. For a City that pretty much gave birth to the Civil Rights movement, we suck. Blacks, gays, all of us. Stand up for something and stick to it. Stop backing down because you got paid off or think you might make someone angry. Disappointed in my gay-Atlanta leaders now.

Dave Cleveland

November 11th, 2009
3:32 pm

Georgia Equality has been in bed with the Borders camp from the beginning. They are too weak to take a real stand.

It is clear that their leadership has a bias against Norwood, and the decision to “look beyond” marriage will absolutely bite them in the rear in the future.

South Fulton Guy

November 11th, 2009
3:46 pm

It seems that the Buckhead Bobblehead’s courting efforts were in vain…


November 11th, 2009
3:51 pm

“There were not strong enough differences?” There is, in fact, a fundamental difference which is highly important to many LGBT citizens. If Georgia Equality can’t see that or chooses to continue “looking beyond that,” then there is an obvious problem with leadership and/or decision-making skills in the organization.

As for the argument that the Mayor doesn’t set marriage policy, this non-endorsement sets a standard for what the LGBT community is willing to accept–which is a lesser than status. Future politicians will see no need to take a step out on the limb if they won’t be encouraged to do so by the very community that needs them to take the risk.

Georgia Equality should be ashamed of its pandering to Democrats and to the Atlanta establishment.


November 11th, 2009
3:56 pm

@ Marc – Well said!

How Sad

November 11th, 2009
3:58 pm

This is the first time GE has ever backed away from its commitment to marriage equality. By saying that GE has always looked beyond marriage equality in its endorsements and did so in this race, Mr. Graham has just rendered moot everything the LGBT community fought for in 2004 for political expedience.

oh yeah

November 11th, 2009
4:06 pm

look – also another way to take this is that GE maybe has read the tea leaves and feels that Reed is going to win. Why alieniate the new mayor over a lost cause. Pick yer battles so to speak…

So True

November 11th, 2009
4:20 pm

@ oh yeah: EXACTLY


November 11th, 2009
4:47 pm

How can an organization called GEORGIA EQUALITY remain neutral in this runoff? Especially since there is ONLY ONE candidate who supports FULL EQUALITY and that candidate is MARY NORWOOD. The other candidate doesn’t even come close…

Maybe the organization should be renamed to:

Georgia Inequality – Our candidate lost. What do we know? You Decide!
Georgia Inequality – Hey If You’re Not Quite There Yet…Well, That’s Quite OK With Us!
Georgia Inequality – Your Gay Dollars Hard at Rest – We’re not Lobbyists…We’re, well, sorry to say, um…Apologists!
Georgia Inequality – The bench is closer to the locker room!
Georgia Inequality – At least it’s not the back seat!
Georgia Inequality – Separate but Equal Is US!

And while they are out shopping for a new name, they should also be out shopping for new leadership…as Jeff Graham obviously needs to go!

There is a growing movement of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Give” where many in the GLBT community have become increasingly fed up with the organizations who are supposedly advocating on its behalf…and have decided to no longer support them with their time, dollars and votes.

Democratic Party
Human Rights Campaign
Georgia Equality

VOTE for MARY NORWOOD on December 1st!


November 11th, 2009
5:11 pm

Kasim Reed is against Gay Marriage and Mary Norwood is for Gay Marriage and full equality for Gay and Lesbians.

A Gay person would have to be stupid, stupid, stupid to vote for Kasim Reed.


November 11th, 2009
6:23 pm

Norwood is a wonderful person and extremely hard working and commited. Unfortunately, the mayors jobs *requires* a high level of executive management experience due to the “strong mayor” form of government. The learning curve will be steep for Norwood and the city will suffer from her lack of political connections in the state legis. GE realizes this and had to make the unpleasant decision to support neither candidate. Reed’s anti-gay marriage hardly matters since he is clearly more liberal and a true blue democrat. Check his record and you will find he has been a strong advocate for gay rights.

Proof is in the Pudding

November 11th, 2009
6:47 pm

As someone who volunteers for non-profits on a regular basis, I’d just like to say that it is comments like these from fellow gay and lesbian folks that makes it really hard to continue to work on their behalf. I don’t work for Georgia Equality, but why would anyone given the vitriolic nature of these comments?

If you want them to endorse, become a member, contribute, volunteer and write a letter. Gay people in this city will complain about everything but donate little in terms of time or money. You want a voice, honey? Step up to the plate and be a man or woman of integrity.

1. Georgia Equality DID endorse. Unfortunately, their candidate didn’t make the runoff. That’s unfortunate but so is the choice we are stuck with.
2. Georgia Equality fought like hell to prevent the Constitutional Marriage Ban here in Georgia from becoming a reality. So glib comments like “Georgia Equality doesn’t care about marriage” are patently not true and are fankly offensive to those of us who volunteered and rallied. Ironically there were more gays at the “Protest California’s Prop Eight Decision rally” at the capitol last year than there was at Georgia’s very own “Protest the Amendment Rally” several years before. You probably weren’t at either.

3. A mayor can select a new police chief who can be sensitive to LGBT issues and maybe prevent what happened at the Atlanta Eagle raid this past September. I’d much prefer this to having Mary Norwood or Kasim Reed by my maid of honor. They are both probably capable of making a good choice with regard to LGBT relations and Chief of Police selection.

4. Vote for who you want and stop complaining. Is a candidate’s support for gay marriage important to you? Vote for Norwood. Is the Beltline important to you? Think about Reed. If the fact that Reed hand-picked Chief Pennington bothers you – vote for Norwood. It is incredible to me that many gay folks ignored Georgia Equality’s endorsement of Borders only to complain that they are not endorsing Norwood or Reed. The elephant in the room here is the fact that neither are amazing candidates, the gay marriage issue isn’t incredibly salient in a mayoral race, and you will simply choose the best among a mediocre lot. Don’t take your apathy out on a grassroots, pro gay rights organization that you never cared enough about to support before now.

Merlot Winters

November 11th, 2009
6:54 pm

Georgia Equality is a non-partisan organization with members of all political persuasions united to win equality for the lgbt community, and this is, or should be, a nonpartisan race. Georgia Equality took a stand for Lisa Borders who was the candidate they thought would be the best one for the community, and she did not make the runoff. Mary Norwood has consistently supported the Atlanta community while Kasim Reed took a stand against the Marriage Amendment when it mattered. No matter who wins, Georgia Equality will have an ally in the mayor’s office. Meanwhile, there is still the matter of the State House District 58 race where Georgia Equality has stood firmly for Simone Bell from the get-go.


November 11th, 2009
7:17 pm


Y’all seem really desperate in your attempt to find reasons to support Norwood. Wanna know why Kasim is head and shoulders above Norwood in most issues, including gay rights? Wait for it…He has a 100% record in support of gay rights in Geogia. The clear difference is, Mary Norwood talks about what she’ll do and who she’ll support, while Kasim’s been actually getting it done and not letting his personal convictions bar the rightsof others.


November 11th, 2009
7:24 pm

Oh yeah, Reed’s on record voting against banning gay marriage in Georgia. Though, he may not believe in it, as many Christians don’t, but that doesn’t stop him from standing up up for basic human rights. Reed’s a solid leader, a man of conviction and compassion. He understands that one doesn’t have to prescribe to a belief to respect it and support it. That’s the kind of leadership Atlanta needs.

The Christian conservatives oughta take a look at him as well.

And go ahead and accuse me of being a staffer, but I’m not. As a self-diagnosed political junky, this race is exciting.


November 11th, 2009
7:34 pm

Georgia Equality is a bad and weak representation of your ’special’ community in the 6th district. Kasim Reed for Mayor!


November 11th, 2009
9:55 pm

They should take a stand and endorse somebody. What are they, some kind of fence post sitters? How gay.

[...] Georgia Equality, the state’s largest organization devoted to gay and lesbian rights, has decided to sit out the Atlantamayoral runoff – and will endorse neither Councilwoman Mary Norwood or former state senator KasimReed. …Read Original Story: Georgia Equality to stay out of ATL mayoral runoff – Atlanta Journal Cons… [...]


November 13th, 2009
11:53 am

While I am supporting Kasim as a gay man, notwithstanding his VERY disappointing gay marriage stance – because I think he is still pro-gay and a better choice – I am very troubled by GE saying that his position against marriage is a non-issue. We need stronger leadership or we’re never going to get anywhere.

GE = Georgia version of Human Rights Campaign.


November 15th, 2009
9:59 am

Georgia Equality’s decision is financial and underscores just how weak the organization is.. GE is funded partially by corporations, special interest groups and the affluent LGBT “elite” who support the status quo that Reed represents. GE is afraid of losing financial support if they endorsed Norwood, who represents REAL CHANGE, has a gay child, and fully understands the importance of marriage equality. Norwood is the person in this race who represents the “average gay joe or gay jane”…the regular people who are not part of an elite which has more interest in attending fancy social functions than in working hard for marriage equality. GE, in trying to take the easy way out, has just made itself irrelevant in the fight for gay rights.