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|International Day Against Homophobia honored by Atlanta LGBT activists, allies|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Wednesday, 18 May 2011 16:14|
Progress is being made under the Gold Dome in the fight for LGBT equality, but sometimes “it’s a slow process,” said Candace Campen, director of community affairs for state Rep. Karla Drenner. Campen made the comments at the second annual Atlanta event to honor International Day Against Homophobia on May 17.
Campen, who is also Drenner’s partner, went on to explain at the event held at Unity Fellowship Church that Drenner, who could not attend because she was teaching a class a DeVry, works hard on both sides of the aisle to build coalitions.
In the waning days of the last state legislative session, Drenner introduced the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Bill, HB 630. The bill currently has 70 sponsors and cosponsors, including 12 Republicans and one Independent, according to Georgia Equality. It would cover Georgia’s 174,000 state employees. Currently 21 states bar job discrimination against state employees based on sexual orientation, while 12 also ban job bias against state employees based on gender identity, Georgia Equality noted.
“She did this by going up to them and talking to them personally and asking them if they thought it would be fair if she lost her job because she is gay,” Campen said.
Drenner is the first openly gay state lawmaker and one of two lesbians currently serving in the state House.
Campen stressed the need to go slow with this bill so it would not be “shocking” to the Republican-controlled House.
“It’s a slow process but we are making progress. Small changes are happening,” she said.
In Atlanta, the International Day Against Homophobia also included transphobia and Islamaphobia and was organized by Betty Couvertier, a longtime LGBT activist and producer and host of “Alternative Perspectives” on WRFG 89.3 FM. IDAHO, as it is commonly called, has been observed around the world after it was first honored in Quebec in 2002.
Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner, the first openly gay person on the commission, presented a proclamation from the Fulton Commission proclaiming May 17, 2011, as International Day Against Homophobia in the county. Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan, the first openly gay man to serve on the council, also attended to present a proclamation from the city declaring May 17, 2011, as International Day Against Homophobia.
Juliana Illari, a straight ally, read the proclamation that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released to recognize International Day Against Homophobia.
Other speakers included Paul Schappaugh of GetEQUAL GA; Monica Helms, a founder of the Transgender American Veterans Association; JeShawna Wholley, past president of lesbian group Afrekete at Spelman College; Pastor Paul Turner of Gentle Spirit Christian Church; and Elder Tony Jones, pastor of Unity Fellowship Church.
Art Izzard of Atlanta’s Queer Justice League also spoke, saying that “slow and steady sometimes is not enough.”
“When we have people on waiting lists for HIV medications, when we have a transgender woman beaten in a McDonalds, and especially when we have people in our city forced to lay down in a bar [the Atlanta Eagle] and then handcuffed and taken to jail for no reason — sometimes slow and steady is not enough,” he said.
Tracee McDaniel, transgender activist and founder of the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, called on people in the “TLGB” community to address issues of racism, classism and sexism within the community.
“That’s right, I put the ‘T’ first — I hope you don’t mind,” she said to cheers from the some 20 people attending.
“It is also my opinion that it’s very easy for us to point the finger at someone else and tell them what we think they are doing wrong but it’s extremely difficult to take a look at ourselves and acknowledge that we are sometimes guilty of perpetuating elitist, racist and sexist attitudes,” she said.
Top photo: Atlanta's International Day Against Homophobia event was organized by Betty Couvertier (right), seen here with trans activist Monica Helms (by Dyana Bagby)
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