Archive for the ‘gay marriage’ Category

Your morning jolt: Lynyrd Skynyrd rethinks Confederate flag retreat

As of this weekend, Chick-fil-A is no longer the latest commercial interest roiled by an attempt to disengage from the culture wars.

That honor has shifted to Lynyrd Skynyrd, now in its 42 year as the South’s premier rock band.

From left, Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and Johnny Van Zant (cq) of the group Lynyrd Skynyrd during their 2007 induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. AJC file

From left, Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and Johnny Van Zant (cq) of the group Lynyrd Skynyrd during their 2007 induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. AJC file

Earlier this month, in a CNN interview touting the band’s latest album, “Last of a Dyin’ Breed,” guitarist Gary Rossington – the group’s sole original member – explained why band members had distanced themselves from the Confederate battle emblem that had once been so identified with their performances. Said Rossington:

”It became such an issue, you know, about race and stuff, where – we just had it in the beginning as we were Southern, and that was our image back in the ‘70s, late ‘60s. They branded us as being from the South, so we showed that.

“But I think …

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Dan Cathy took part in Chick-fil-A talks on gay rights

August was a busy month at Chick-fil-A headquarters in Atlanta, especially when it came to the topic of gay marriage.

On Wednesday, a Chicago alderman had dropped his objections to the first standalone Chick-fil-A restaurant in his city, after the fast-food franchise persuaded him that it had withdrawn from the political battle over same-sex marriage.

Several weeks of negotiations with Chick-fil-A executives had produced internal company guidelines that prohibit discrimination in hiring and customer service. Alderman Joe Moreno also said that, in August, executives of the family-held firm also opened the books of Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation, to prove that it no longer gave money to groups opposing same-sex unions.

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Gay marriage supporters gathered at the Chick-fil-A store in Decatur in August for a "kiss-in" protest of company president Dan Cathy's stand on gay marriage. Phil Skinner, pskinner@ajc.com

Less known is the fact that, at the same time, Chick-fil-A was also …

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Chick-fil-A just blinked on gay marriage

The Civil Rights Agenda, an Illinois advocacy group focused on sexual orientation issues, says a letter from a Chick-fil-A executive to a Chicago alderman indicates the Georgia-based fast-food chain is backing off its financial support for political opponents of gay marriage.

From group’s website:

In a letter addressed to Alderman [Joe] Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate, it states, “The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”

Winshape, a non-profit funded by Chick-fil-a, has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups, including some classified as hate groups, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage. In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations.

Jim Burruss of WABE (90.1FM) …

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Your morning jolt: Charter school support holds steady at 58 percent

The forces behind Georgia’s charter school amendment to the state constitution are out with a new poll this morning that shows voters still comfortably in favor of the measure.

Fifty-eight percent of voters are prepared to vote in favor of the amendment – unchanged since the previous poll in July. See the polling note from John McLaughlin and Rob Schmidt here.

The real purpose of the poll was to measure the effectiveness of arguments we’re likely to see put forward in coming weeks. Opponents have argued that giving a state agency the power to grant charter school licenses over the objections of local systems would sap education funding from traditional schools.

Here’s one test argument from the poll:

If approved, this amendment would not take a single dollar away from traditional public schools. This amendment simply provides for a fair appeals process for families that are not fortunate enough to have great public schools or enough resources to enroll in private …

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Your morning jolt: Sadie Fields endorses Martha Zoller in 9th District race

Sadie Fields, the Christian conservative leader behind the 2004 fight over gay marriage in Georgia, this morning endorsed former radio talk show host Martha Zoller in the Republican primary runoff for the 9th congressional district.

The endorsement comes as something of a surprise — the former head of the Georgia Christian Coalition has lately retired from politics, and the endorsement sets her squarely against the many forces in the state Capitol. The press release from the Zoller campaign includes this:

“Martha’s conservative position on important issues is not just rhetoric, but a part of her belief system,” said Fields. “More than ever, we need conservative leaders who will stand firm on the principles espoused by our Founding Fathers. Martha will do just that and will work hard and tirelessly to help get this country back on track. I endorse her candidacy wholeheartedly and without reservation.”

Zoller’s opponent, state Rep. Doug Collins, has accused Zoller of …

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Your morning jolt: John McCain, Condoleezza Rice top RNC speakers

Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice top a brief list of speakers released today for the Republican National Convention, the Tampa Bay Tribune reports.

Other featured speakers also include Govs. Rick Scott of Florida, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, John Kasich of Ohio; Susana Martinez of New Mexico, and former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.

No mention of Sarah Palin so far.

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Politico this morning notes a dog that didn’t bark — the Democratic decision to include support for same-sex marriage in its national platform resulted in near silence from official national GOP outlets:

There were no statements blasted out from Mitt Romney’s campaign. The same was true for the Republican National Committee. Romney has yet to address the fact.

The pushback came largely from social conservatives and evangelicals, who pledged to make same-sex unions an issue going forward and insisted the stand will hurt Democrats….

And it marks a dramatic …

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Your morning jolt: Lawmaker wanted leniency for Brandon White attackers

Two young men were sentenced to five years in prison and five years on probation last week for the YouTube-recorded beating of Brandon White, a gay man, as he exited a convenience store in the southwest Atlanta community of Pittsburgh.

But reverberations will continue through the July 31 Democratic primary.

On Friday, after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jackson Bedford handed down his sentence, Project Q Atlanta published a letter written by several gay rights activists, asking that the assailants be subjected to no further incarceration. The most prominent signature belonged to state Rep. Simone Bell, who is locked in a District 58 Democratic primary race with fellow incumbent Ralph Long.

From the letter:

”Our primary interest is seeing an end to the homophobia that seems to have been a dominant factor in the attack on Mr. White. We do not believe that this will be accomplished by a long sentence of imprisonment….

We believe that the time each of these young men has …

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Your morning jolt: House speaker calls gift cap ‘a gimmick,’ urges independent ethics panel

Advocates of a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers will be at the state Capitol this morning to begin a 13-city bus tour pushing a “yes” vote on the July 31 Republican ballot question addressing the issue.

It will be led by state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, who will also be attending a called meeting of the Senate Ethics Committee. Which may or may not be – the sessions are closed to press and public – considering a complaint lodged against Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour, R-Snellville.

On the same topic, House Speaker David Ralston on Wednesday indicated that, rather than a cap on gifts, he’d rather see more secure funding for the panel formerly known as the State Ethics Commission. Ralston made his remarks on the last of a four-day swing through the state by House Republican leaders. According to Jon Gillooly and the Marietta Daily Journal, Ralston said:

”I am not opposed to real ethics reform. … I think the cap is a gimmick, frankly.

“I have …

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Your morning jolt: Feds sue over Georgia’s runoff schedule

Federal officials have followed through on a threat issued nearly two weeks ago. From the Associated Press:

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the state of Georgia and its chief election official for allegedly not giving enough time to military service members, their families and citizens living overseas to return absentee ballots for the Aug. 21 federal primary runoff election.

The Justice Department said in a news release Wednesday that the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The news release says Georgia’s procedures are “inadequate to ensure that its eligible military and overseas voters can participate fully” in the runoff, should one be necessary.

Federal officials contend that under Georgia’s election calendar, absentee ballots for the runoff election won’t be sent out until after the July 7 deadline, or 45 days in advance of the election.

Of course, it’s hard to issue a runoff ballot on July 7 when the first round of voting doesn’t occur until …

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Kasim Reed and his same-sex marriage dilemma

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at a January jobs forum at the White House. Astrid Riecken/Getty Images News

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at a January jobs forum at the White House. Astrid Riecken/Getty Images News

One month has now passed since President Barack Obama endorsed same-sex marriage.

In doing so, Obama delighted the LGBT community and shook cultural conservatives in the GOP out of their post-primary stupor. All predictable – and perhaps even intentional.

But collateral damage has resulted, too. The president’s evolution on a central tenet of gay rights has condemned Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, one of his strongest supporters, to an interesting re-election bid in 2013.

One day after Obama’s announcement, the mayor – in a written statement – declared his respect for the president decision, reviewed his past support for gay and lesbian causes, and announced that he was “still wrestling with my own personal beliefs on the issue of marriage.”

Reed hasn’t publicly addressed the matter since. This despite a good deal of prodding, including a Facebook page with the …

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