Kasim Reed announces support for gay marriage

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has officially evolved. Through a press release this afternoon, Reed announced his support of gay marriage.

President Barack Obama in May said his views “evolved” in announcing his support, and Reed today says he has “gone through a good bit of reflection on this issue, but listening to the stories of so many people that I know and care about has strengthened my belief that marriage is a fundamental right for everyone.”

When Obama made his announcement there was some pushback on the issue in the African-American church. At the time Reed said he was still “wrestling with my own personal beliefs.” There are signs that black public opinion quickly shifted on the matter, particularly in Maryland, where voters approved same-sex marriage last month. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider the issue next year.

From a political standpoint, Reed aligns himself with U.S. Rep. John Lewis — a proponent as far back as 2003 — and gets ahead of what is likely to be a Democratic primary litmus test in the years to come, for local and statewide races. The full release includes statements of support from local gay rights activists. It is pasted below.

Update 4:46 p.m. — Reed denied any political motivation for the decision in an interview this afternoon with the AJC’s City Hall beat reporter Jeremiah McWilliams.

“This seems to me to be natural place to be,” Reed said. “Candidly I didn’t feel any pressure … if I wanted to play politics, I would have done it when I was in third place in the mayoral election [in 2009] and in front of the gay and lesbian community saying I was not supportive of marriage equality. … As a result of that I suffered great political harm.”

Reed said he consulted with his father and chief of staff when making the decision over the weekend. Reed said his talks over the past few months with the LGBT community convinced him it was an equal protection issue.

“They were persuasive and they changed my mind,” he said.

- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider

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ATLANTA – Mayor Kasim Reed today announced his support for marriage equality by signing a resolution sponsored by Councilman Alex Wan and passed by the City Council on Dec. 3, 2012. The resolution supports the city’s lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual community by endorsing marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“Today marks an important day as I announce my support for marriage equality,” said Mayor Reed. “It is well known that I have gone through a good bit of reflection on this issue, but listening to the stories of so many people that I know and care about has strengthened my belief that marriage is a fundamental right for everyone. Loving couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the right to marry whomever they want. By signing this resolution, I pledge my support to marriage equality for same-sex couples, consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Today’s announcement follows years of Mayor Reed’s advocacy for equal rights for gays and lesbians. During his term in the Georgia House of Representatives, Mayor Reed sponsored the only hate crimes bill ever to pass the General Assembly and defended the LGBT community’s right to adopt children. As a co-sponsor for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Mayor Reed proposed a measure that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian and nonreligious employers. In 2004, Mayor Reed also voted against the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Georgia.

“I’ve always had the utmost respect for the Mayor. He has been a good friend to my wife De Linda and me and to our community,” said Lee Schreter, a friend of Mayor Reed’s for more than 14 years and a shareholder with the law firm of Littler and Mendelson. “I believe he will be on the right side of history with this decision. I think people have underestimated how important it is to stand up and have your relationship recognized as a true marriage, but those attitudes are changing. I’ve always known that Kasim Reed wants people to be treated fairly and this is evidence of that.”

The resolution approved by the Council and signed by Mayor Reed cites Atlanta’s support of policies that protect equal rights for all citizens, as well as the city’s numerous provisions that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by businesses, stores, hotels, restaurants and other public accommodations, and in housing sales and rentals. The City Code also prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in the city’s employment decisions, and the city offers its employees the ability to enroll a domestic partner for health insurance coverage and to name a domestic partner as a pension beneficiary.

“This is a reflection of the respect and concern for me and my husband Mike that Mayor Reed has shown through all the years of our advocating with him and to him,” said the Rev. Harry Knox, President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. “I have always felt that Mayor Reed both respected my marriage and cared for Mike and me as people. The action he is taking today really reflects that and it feels like a ‘fullness of time’ moment for me.”

The City of Atlanta has one of the highest LGBT populations in the country based on U.S. Census and other data. The Rev. Timothy McDonald of First Iconium Baptist Church said he’s encouraged by Mayor Reed’s decision. “I’m grateful for Mayor Reed’s positive, inclusive position on marriage equality,” said the Rev. McDonald. “It is consistent with the NAACP’s position and I’m sure many in the city will celebrate this decision.”

Mayor Reed also announced that he will join other leading mayors who have already signed the ‘Mayors for Freedom to Marry’ pledge. Mayors for the Freedom to Marry is a broad-based and nonpartisan group of mayors who believe that all people should be able to share in the love and commitment of marriage.

“Mayor Reed, like the more than 200 other Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, has his eye on the economic growth, prosperity, diversity, and opportunity that the families he serves cherish — and knows that including same-sex couples and their contributions in the community and in marriage strengthens the city and our country,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. “As we build toward more wins in 2013, we welcome Mayor Reed’s support at this crucial time in the freedom to marry movement, and are excited to work with him to make the case for the freedom to marry both in Atlanta and across America.”

Mayor Reed added: “I believe in tolerance and acceptance, regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. That creed has been a guiding force for me throughout my life, as reflected by my actions and votes as a lifelong Democrat and elected official in the state of Georgia for more than 14 years.”

Update 4:37 p.m. — The comments have now been closed on this post.

39 comments Add your comment

Skipper

December 11th, 2012
3:58 pm

Another one bites the dust………………everybody prance around and blow whistles!

Buck Farrack

December 11th, 2012
4:10 pm

Thank God one thng Sonny Perdue got right in 8 years. The Georgia Constitution amendment that doesn’t recognize it. Whew!!!

Mike

December 11th, 2012
4:11 pm

After reflection…. About how to best pander for votes?

LydiasDad

December 11th, 2012
4:12 pm

Then he’s an idiot. It’s NOT a right, just like driving isn’t a right. Both require a license. And the enemy of gay marriage is not Christians, as the left thinks. It’s nature. Nature abhors homosexuality because homosexuality opposes nature’s primary goal: procreation.

jdprice

December 11th, 2012
4:12 pm

if you want to call the relationship a civil union okay agreed everyone has that right but it is not and will never be a marriage as defined by the Bible……..end of discussion

Meh

December 11th, 2012
4:13 pm

In twenty years this whole debate will seem absurd. Their is ZERO justification for denying gay men and women the right to marry the person they love. People need to get over their own insecurity with gay people: it’s immature and embarrassing. The writing is on the wall with SCOTUS agreeing to hear the issue and people like Reed (and Republicans) would be wise to “get with it”.

Nobama

December 11th, 2012
4:14 pm

Enter your comments here

Bobby

December 11th, 2012
4:15 pm

No problem Buck; Just like the courts had to do when segregation was the law of the State, they will grant gay Georgians the same civil rights as their hetero counterparts.

God created men and women in His image, including gays so who are we judge them.

jane

December 11th, 2012
4:16 pm

quess he left his Methodist upbringing in the dust…..I am sure his grandparents are rolling in the grave. I really don’t have a problem with civil unions…but keep it out of the church. If not, history will repeat itself.

Caitlin

December 11th, 2012
4:16 pm

Not everybody lives by the Bible – everybody is different. Respect other people no matter what.

Rick C

December 11th, 2012
4:17 pm

Separation of church and state jdprice. If your church does not recognize it, that is their decision.

Johnson

December 11th, 2012
4:18 pm

I agree with Mayor Reed on his support of gay marriange. Now please worry about the violent crime in Atlanta. Seems to be one particular race that commits over 90% of the violent crime. Lets get down to the root reason of why this is happening so we can prevent it further down the road. May not be popular to address but these are the type of issues that real leaders take on in order to make this city safer. This small element of the african american population is giving the city and the law abiding african americans a black eye.

Nobama

December 11th, 2012
4:18 pm

I’ve heard him on the Sunday shows. Race bater vote buying thug is Reed. Slick with the tongue and turing a phrase but he is clearly playing to the Gimme Gimme Obamaphone stooges amongst us.

How about staying in Atlanta on weekends and picking up trash instead of the self promoting trips to Meet the Press.

I don’t give two craps what he’s for. It’s a State issue and he has zero to do with it.

I have no issue with legal unions – just don’t call it marriage as it’s a Biblical term

Bobby

December 11th, 2012
4:21 pm

All you self-righteous Christians gave up the right to keep gays from using the term “marriage” when you banned civil unions at the same time as you passed the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Your bigotry is going to come back to bite you in God’s name.

jdprice

December 11th, 2012
4:22 pm

rick c what’s your point ? the Bible is very clear in the definition of marriage and it is not between two of the same sex period.. I am not against a civil union which in fact is separating church and state.Civil Union

jdprice

December 11th, 2012
4:23 pm

good luck with your anger issues Bobby

MANGLER

December 11th, 2012
4:24 pm

LydiasDad,
please explain asexual animals then

Unreal

December 11th, 2012
4:24 pm

Meh=Meh head???.. The City of Atlanta deserves Reed and all the comes with him!!!

redfromtrg

December 11th, 2012
4:24 pm

if marryin gays is legal than so should be marryin ur sister

Flunked History

December 11th, 2012
4:25 pm

Once again, another enlightened one or evolved one is unwilling to learn from history, thinking they are making history. There is nothing new under the sun.

straitroad

December 11th, 2012
4:26 pm

Note that when Republicans modify their postions its called flipp-flopping but when a democrat does it, we call it “evolving”. These people have no bedrock values.

Rick C

December 11th, 2012
4:26 pm

Nobama, great idea! I guess we should execute all people who are for the death penalty to while we’re at it!

jdprice, my point is that there is a separation of church and state. What the bible defines as marriage should have no bearing on what the state defines it. And by the way, the bible is not that clear. For example, marriage in the bible was often a man, a woman, and the man’s mistress.

It doesn't matter what he said...

December 11th, 2012
4:26 pm

God only recognizes marriage between men and women. If that is how the Mayor feels, then good for him. If a man want to marry a man and a woman want to marry a woman then that is between them and God. They have to answer to Him for their sins just like each one of us has to answer to God for our sins.

Mayor Reed does not want to step on anybodys’ rights. His re-election is coming up. So that is probably why he said that.

Aquagirl

December 11th, 2012
4:27 pm

I really don’t have a problem with civil unions…but keep it out of the church.

Too late Jane, the Gay Pride parade is rolling up to your church doors right this second. BOO!

Whatever

December 11th, 2012
4:29 pm

Such a screwed up society we live in now.

Life is to short

December 11th, 2012
4:29 pm

I’m extremely happy for all the gay couples in Atlanta! This will open new doors for them and also change a lot of lives. FOR ALL YOU HATERS It makes me sick to my stomach that you call yourself christian. Do you even know what that term means? Who gives you the right to judge… I bet you there are more gay couple out in this world that have stayed together longer then marriage between a man and women. Just look at hollywood… everyday someone is getting married and someone is getting divorced. My one question to you, is how will gay marriage really affect you? I’ll answer it… IT WONT!
From: a Straight female with and open mind. You should get one too… Life is to short. :)

Alana

December 11th, 2012
4:29 pm

I agree MEH, we’ll look back and laugh, just like we do now about interracial marriage. We are not living in the Dark Ages anymore folks, and no amount of hate and negative spew will make these loving individuals change their minds, so get with the program and make America a more tolerant place. Supporting equal marriage rights does not make you gay, does not make you a lover of homosexuals, it just means you have the common sense to know that “ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL” means just that. And get off this Bible crap, it was written by MAN who we all know is flawed. Want to be a “good Christian?” Quit judging everyone else, and mind your own business….

no surprised

December 11th, 2012
4:29 pm

This butt-kisser…not surprised that he did the same as Obama who also claimed self-reflection when he switched gears and announced his support.

@Nobama

December 11th, 2012
4:30 pm

I’d love to think you’re 14 but in reality you’re probably a grown person who’s so insecure with their own sexuality that they feel threatened by the very existence of gay people. Yes yes, comparing anal rape to marriage equality… how utterly juvenile and pathetic. The Supreme Court will have the last laugh in eight months. Enjoy your brief time without gay marriage!

Blue

December 11th, 2012
4:30 pm

Rick C; although many people like to quote “separation of church and state”, you DO realize that separation of church and state is nowhere in the constitution or ammendments, right??

soxman

December 11th, 2012
4:32 pm

The Bible only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman, and another woman, and another woman and another woman and…

Kevin

December 11th, 2012
4:32 pm

Gee, um, thanks for evolving?

Because for eight years that my partner and I have lived in the city and, since you’ve been mayor, helped pay your salary.

I honestly don’t give a flying fuque what the mayor thinks, or what any of you toothless in-breds on the board think. I don’t define my self-worth by the opinions of others.

On My Way

December 11th, 2012
4:32 pm

Why not just eliminate the tax laws that favor marriage? All you fair tax proponents take note. Also, if we had universal health care for all, no one would have to worry about being on someone else’s employer provided insurance plan. All you Obamacare haters take note. Laws regarding 401K transfers (upon death), pensions, etc. all favor married couples. Eliminate that and give everyone a fair shot. That would eliminate all this discussion about equality. But unfortunately, our politicians pander to voters.

td

December 11th, 2012
4:32 pm

It looks like Reed is afraid of some African Americans not liking him enough to re elect him so now he is reaching out to the gay community to try to buy some votes.

Shame on you Mayor Reed. I once thought you where a good mayor but now you are just turning into another lib politician.

MANGLER

December 11th, 2012
4:33 pm

Y’all can’t seem to keep your religion out of your politics. The concept of marriage does originate from religious institutions and a marriage is recognized by most major religions (pick a god, any god). However, in legal terms in the US, marriage is a tax category and a basis for legal protections. So, based on the legal aspect of the term marriage, it can’t legally create a division of classes for people. Ban it in church all you want. But as long as the US Gov’t legally recognizes a thing called marriage and grants protections based on it, then it has to allow anyone to join into that category without prejudice. It’s a legal issue. Do I care if your church acknowledges certain types of unions? Not at all, that’s your deal. I do care greatly, however, if the Gov’t bans certain types while allowing others.

As for marriage being a right … the moment the Gov’t granted a legal protection for it’s citizens that were married, then it became a right – those legal protections became rights.

If you want to eliminate the tax and legal issues surrounding all marriages, then OK, you may take that approach to even the playing field. Care to try that out?

Ummmm

December 11th, 2012
4:33 pm

I completely agree, jdprice. The Bible IS very clear on it’s definition of marriage. Deuteronomy 7:14, 1 Corinthians 7:39, and 2 Corinthians 6:14 are very clear in saying that you should not marry outside of your race, but at least 1 Kings 11:3 says a man should be able to marry as many women as he wants. Let’s not forget Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (look it up.) There’s also Genesis 24:4…

All of these are very clear messages from the Bible as to what marriage is, yet, at some point in the course of human events, we have “evolved” from those definitions to adapt to a changing society.

NoMoreRawDeal

December 11th, 2012
4:34 pm

“…Nature abhors homosexuality because homosexuality opposes nature’s primary goal: procreation.”

Except that nature is rife with examples of homosexual behavior in animals that are NOT humans… Look it up. You’re telling me these animals CHOOSE to behave in such a manner?

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