Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed officially announced his support yesterday for marriage equality. Reed’s office published a press release stating 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”.
Hallelujah! Though personally this author never had a doubt that the Mayor would get to the same place that other leaders like our President and Congressman John Lewis are, the timing of when that would happen was never certain.
Over years LGBT activists and supporters, lobbying at the capitol, have watched Mayor Reed, then State Representative and later State Senator, support both quietly and sometimes quite vocally a range of LGBT issues such as funding for the ADAP program which provides medication to fight HIV to those with no or little income, voting against the same-sex marriage ban in 2004, derailing attempts to bring anti-gay adoption measures to the floor of either chamber, and a host of other legislative issues.
When the question of marriage equality was brought up in 2009 when Reed was running, and in 3rd place at the time, for Mayor of Atlanta, he openly and candidly stated he wasn’t “there”, and that his position was personal. He has maintained this position and statement over the last 3 1/2 years without waiver. This was not politically popular, his 2009 opponent Mary Norwood was an open advocate of marriage equality, and the mayor continued to take heat from his contituents via change.org and at public events for his stance on marriage equality even after narrowly winning the election.
And yet, those of us who had talked with him in the halls of the capitol and on the sidelines at various public events, knew our Mayor was headed in the right direction and needed time and patience. Well, patience was running thin, even for me. Luckily, some of the Mayor’s close friends and allies have been quietly and effectively working with him, sharing their stories, showing through their own experiences what equality would mean for them…and it worked.
A hat tip to all those who quietly, and with as much fervor as those of us who march in the streets or scream on blogs, share their personal stories and continue to work for equality in their own way.
To those that think that this might be a political move by the mayor and somehow think this will help his future ambitions whatever they may be, I ask, “Do you really think it’s politically popular, in THIS state which still only supports marriage equality at a dismal 27%, to come out for same-sex marriage”? If you do you’re clearly delusional and not at all connected to the personal and political reality of life outside of I-285.
Thank you for your support Mayor Reed! In your own way, you are helping to advance equality and non-discrimination in this state and our country. Councilman Alex Wan couldn’t have said it better - “Everyone has to go through their own process. All that matters to me is you reach the right decision”