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|Atlanta mayor to meet again with activists on gay marriage|
|Written by Laura Douglas-Brown and Ryan Watkins|
|Friday, 06 July 2012 00:00|
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed would like to meet again this month with a group of LGBT advocates who want him to endorse full marriage rights for same-sex couples. The mayor suggested the second meeting after a discussion held June 27 at City Hall.
“I would compare it to somebody coming out, that he has got to take time to think about what is meaningful to him. This was an educational process and he was very open and it was a very warm and friendly discussion,” said Ken Britt, one of the activists who met with Reed, after the June meeting. “In fact he has offered to have a follow up session in July to talk more about this.”
Reed has been under increasing pressure to voice support for marriage equality after President Barack Obama announced his support in May.
Gay teacher and activist Charlie Stadtlander started a Facebook page after Obama’s announcement titled, “Mayor Reed, It’s Time to Evolve on Marriage Equality.”
The June 27 meeting was attended by Stadtlander; Britt, a longtime gay politico who is running for Georgia House; attorney Lawrie Demorest of Alston & Bird; Pastor Dennis Meredith of Tabernacle Baptist Church; and attorney Doug Brooks, who is married and has children.
The meeting at City Hall was not open to the press and Reed did not give interviews after it ended. Those who attended described the meeting as candid and positive, but said Reed did not announce a change in his position on marriage equality during the gathering.
“The mayor had a productive meeting and he looks forward to further discussions with the LGBT community,” Reese McCranie, Reed’s deputy director of communications, said in a written statement.
In interviews at City Hall immediately after the meeting, all of the gay attendees described the conversation as productive and open.
Britt said that while Reed did not say that he plans to announce support for gay marriage, his impression was that the mayor will eventually reach that position.
“One thing he did say that I think we are all taking with us is that tolerance is a two-way street and we really have to give him some time to continue on his journey to think about this,” Britt said. “I think he will come out on the other side in the right place.”
Stadtlander said the mayor stressed that his current lack of support for gay marriage is a “personal” issue and is not based on political considerations.
According to Stadtlander, Reed made it clear “this is a very personal issue for me and it is something that when I get there you are going to know that I really am there, and that it is not political.”
Stadlander said he believes supporters of marriage equality should continue to advocate to Reed “in a way that recognizes that the mayor has been there with us and continues to be there with us.”
Meredith said he left the meeting with a more positive outlook on the mayor and “I think he is probably more there than he is representing.”
“I think he was very open and very honest,” Meredith said. “I think it was an excellent meeting.”
Reed, a LGBT ally during his terms in the state House and Senate, supports civil unions but created controversy during his 2009 mayoral bid when he declined to support full marriage rights for gay couples. In the wake of Obama’s announcement, Reed said he was still struggling with the issue of supporting full marriage equality.
“While I am still wrestling with my own personal beliefs on the issue of marriage, I deeply appreciate the contributions gays and lesbians make to our city every single day and I remain committed to Atlanta’s vibrant and diverse LGBT community,” Reed said.
Top photo: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed stressed in a June conversation with activists that his opposition to marriage equality is based on personal beliefs rather than political strategy. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)
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