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|Gay Atlantans rub elbows with President Obama|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Tuesday, 26 June 2012 15:43|
Using words like "wow" and "cool" and "really, really neat," several gay Atlantans who met President Barack Obama today during his fundraising stop in the city described the experience as unlike any other.
"The whole experience was like, 'wow,'" said Glen Paul Freedman, chair of the Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board who said he got a ticket to the event from someone who could not make it.
That ticket was a special one, too, because it meant Freedman, a politico who works with Lisa Borders at the Grady Health Foundation, got to shake hands with the president and have his photo made with him.
"Even though it took less than a minute he was so relaxed and shook my hand and said he was glad to meet me. All I could say is thank you and it was an honor to meet you," Freedman said.
"He is taller than I thought, but I'm a bit shorter," he added with a laugh. "I didn't know what to expect. I thought it would be more regimented but it was the opposite. He was so relaxed and funny and nice to every person and very appreciative. I felt like such a school kid."
The event was sponsored by the Obama Victory Fund and was a reception at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. Ticket prices were: $500 per guest, $1,000 preferred admission and $10,000 for a photo with the president plus two preferred admission tickets.
Marci Alt, founder and owner of Carma Productions, said she and her wife, Marlysa Brooks-Alt, were fortunate to be placed in the VIP section and meet the president after his speech. Also with them was Alt's business partner, Thomas Ryan-Lawrence.
"My wife whispered something into his ear, saying she liked what he was doing for our community. I shook his hand and thanked him for repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell and for supporting marriage," Alt said.
Alt said she was able to get tickets to the event after her business was approached to help with a reception with the gay community and allowing her office to be used by Obama campaign staffers.
The couple also got kisses on their cheeks from the president.
"We were like, did that really happen? Because he didn't kiss anyone else," Alt said. "It was all kind of surreal, to be quite frank with you. Being less than five inches away from the president — your heart stops. You get, wow. I felt like a little kid — a kid in a candy store."
Josh Noblitt, minister of social justice at Saint Mark United Methodist Church and one of the LGBT representatives on the committee selling tickets to the fundraiser, said he was on "cloud nine" after hearing President Obama speak.
"There is something about being in the presence of the president. All the fanfare, the people lining the streets, the motorcade. You always hear his voice — on the radio, on TV or reading what he says in newspapers. But to see him in person, regardless of your political affiliation — everyone on the planet knows who the president is," Noblitt said. "It was an amazing thing to hear him."
Noblitt and Freedman said they also got to sit in on a special LGBT briefing before President Obama's speech with members of Obama's staff. The 30-minute session included accomplishments, such as the repeal of DADT, and staffers asking those in attendance to help get out the LGBT vote in November.
"We were told he will have a presence at Atlanta Pride and has bought a booth and is working with our LGBT Democratic Caucus," said Freedman, who is also chair of the Atlanta Pride Committee.
White House staff in the LGBT briefing also discussed the special LGBT web page the president has that discusses accomplishments, Freedman said.
Freedman added that if the president can come out in support of such politically charged issues such as DADT and marriage equality, then all politicians should have no problem doing so as well.
"Even though it's political, he is not afraid to talk about it and put it out there … and if the president can talk about our issues then other politicians should not even have to think twice," he said.
Cell phone photo by Glen Paul Freedman
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