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Out Former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard Enters 2017 Mayoral Race

Longtime politician and gay rights activist Cathy Woolard has tossed her hat into the ring in the race to become the next mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. The GA Voice broke the news yesterday.

WoolardIn 1997, Woolard made history by becoming the first openly gay elected official in the state of Georgia - as a member of the Atlanta City Council. Just a few years later, she would not only become the first female president of the City Council, but also the first openly gay one, too.

She explained why she finally decided to run for the big seat.

“I’ve probably been thinking about this since I was in office, off and on...In politics, timing is everything and I had some friends running the last couple times and just decided this time that I’m going to do it. I’ve been thinking hard about it and what’s in store for me at this point in my life and I’ve never let go of how much I love Atlanta and all the wonderful things as a city we can do going into the future, not the least of which is finishing the Beltline.” 

Woolard has not announced a start date for her campaign though the ambitious politician says that she's "going to run hard." Soon after Woolard's announcement, state Rep. Margaret Kaiser also announced her intention to run, bringing the total number of official candidates to two. The mayoral election will take place in 2017.

Watch a video interview with Woolard from 2014, wherein she talks about marriage equality, civil rights and the election of gay political candidates, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Out Former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard Enters 2017 Mayoral Race" »


Georgia Senate Passes 'Reprehensible' Anti-LGBT License to Discriminate Bill

Georgia

By a vote of 37-15 today, the Georgia Senate passed a bill that will allow people in the state to use their religion to discriminate against LGBT individuals.

HRC reacts, via statement:

In practical terms, S.B. 129 could allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples, a paramedic to refuse to provide life-saving services to an LGBT person, or a school counselor to refuse services to an LGBT teenager. The bill puts minority groups at risk of being denied service everywhere from the convenience store to the doctor's office.

"This bill is a reprehensible attack on LGBT people and their families in Georgia," said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. "It does not address any legitimate problem with current law and creates harmful consequences for businesses throughout the state. It threatens not just the LGBT community, but women, members of minority faiths and other minority classes. All Georgians deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and we need all fair-minded people in the state to help stop this bill."

"It's disappointing that the Senate voted today for such a divisive and unneeded piece of legislation," said Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham. "Legal experts from across the political spectrum agree that this bill could open the door for discrimination. And if this is not about creating a license to discriminate, why would they work so hard to prevent language that would clarify that from being added to the bill. The actions today will have a chilling effect on Georgia's reputation and send a message of intolerance to the next generation."

Georgia's push to further enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law has faced opposition from an unlikely source recently: Mike Bowers. Bowers was the former Georgia Attorney General who defended the state's sodomy law in the landmark Supreme Court case Bowers v. Hardwick. Last month, he spoke out against such proposals as an "excuse to practice invidious discrimination."

The AP adds that a similar House bill remains in a committee.


Georgia Senate Committee Passes Anti-LGBT 'License to Discriminate' Bill

Georgia

The Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee has moved forward with an anti-LGBT "license to discriminate" bill, Atlanta's WABE reports:

MckoonOn Monday, a Senate committee made changes to the bill. Supporters say it’s now closer to a federal act that passed Congress in 1993 and was signed by President Bill Clinton. Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, is sponsoring the bill.

“I’m very pleased we were able to come to an agreement that protects the religious liberty for each and every Georgian," says Mckoon (right), “while sending a clear message that none of us are trying to use this as a vehicle to be a license to discriminate.”

Supporters say the new bill makes it clear it doesn’t apply to private companies but only to government. Gay rights activists say the legislation is better than what was originally proposed, but they’re still concerned.

“This language is still not something that we’re going to be able to support,” Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, says. “We do feel that it still opens the door for action, for individuals and companies to continue to discriminate against people.”

The bill now moves to the full Senate, which is controlled 38-18 by Republicans. 

BowersGeorgia's push to further enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law has faced opposition from an unlikely source recently: Mike Bowers. Bowers was the former Georgia Attorney General who defended the state's sodomy law in the landmark Supreme Court case Bowers v. Hardwick. Last month, he spoke out against such proposals as an "excuse to practice invidious discrimination."


Mike Bowers, Man Who Defended Sodomy Bans, Says He Is A Changed Man on LGBT Rights: VIDEO

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Mike Bowers, the former Georgia Attorney General who defended the state’s sodomy ban, has spoken to Buzzfeed about how his opinions on gay rights have evolved over the last 30 years.

Bowers, who in 1986 successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to allow state bans on “homosexual sodomy,” earlier this week announced his opposition to “deeply troubling” pending religious liberty legislation in the state.

According to Bowers, the timing of the proposed legislation is suspect as it comes in the wake of the many recent marriage equality decisions. Moreover, the state proposals provide for broader exemptions than federal protections, so that “any time a person wished to refuse to act in response to a government requirement, he or she could assert the protection of the proposed [Religious Freedom Restoration Act on which the proposals are based].”

Bowers was asked by LGBT group Georgia Equality to assess the bill.  Once he’d read it, he decided it needed to be killed because it would allow people “to use religion as an excuse for his or her interpretation of the law and to get out from under this, that, or the other law.”

On the issue of same-sex marriage, he said:

“I want people to be left alone.

“I genuinely believe that everybody, all people, need someone to love and be loved by. I truly believe that.”

Watch a 2012 interview with Bowers reflecting on his time in Georgia politics, AFTER THE JUMP..

Continue reading "Mike Bowers, Man Who Defended Sodomy Bans, Says He Is A Changed Man on LGBT Rights: VIDEO" »


LGBT Georgians Find Unlikely Ally In Former Defender Of State's Anti-Sodomy Law: VIDEO

Bowers

Mike Bowers, the former Georgia Attorney General, has announced his opposition to “deeply troubling” pending religious liberty legislation in the state despite a long history of opposing gay rights, reports Buzzfeed.

Bowers, who served as attorney general from 1981 to 1997, defended Georgia’s sodomy law in the landmark Supreme Court case Bowers v. Hardwick. He also ignominiously rescinded a job offer to Robin Shahar after he found out that she planned to have a same-sex commitment ceremony with her then-partner. In 2013, Shahar was appointed as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's LGBT adviser.

Despite this anti-LGBT past, Bowers is expected to hold a news conference tomorrow to discuss his analysis of the pending legislation which is modeled in part on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

He has said that the legislation would provide an “excuse to practice invidious discrimination” and "permit everyone to become a law unto themselves in terms of deciding what laws they will or will not obey, based on whatever religious tenets they may profess or create at any given time.”

Additionally, Bowers has concluded that the measures could be used to “justify putting hoods back on the Ku Klux Klan” because people could use religious exemptions to the Anti-Mask Act which aimed to reduce the KKK’s presence in the state.

Watch a 2012 interview with Bowers relecting on his time in Georgia politics, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "LGBT Georgians Find Unlikely Ally In Former Defender Of State's Anti-Sodomy Law: VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Files Discrimination Lawsuit: VIDEO

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Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was fired last month by the city’s Mayor Kasim Reed for publishing a controversial book labeling homosexuality as a “sexual perversion,” has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, reports AJC.com.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c70f613f970b-800wiCochran was initially suspended from his position last November after employees came forward to complain about the anti-gay opinions he had expressed in self-published book Who Told You That You Are Naked?, which also compared homosexuality with bestiality and pederasty.

Cochran will be represented by Christian litigation group Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization known for actively spreading anti-gay hate around the world.

Late last month, Cochran filed a federal discrimination complaint contending religious discrimination. City spokeswoman Anne Torres said at the time that it intends to fully defend Reed's decision.

Reed has said that the firing was not a direct result of homophobic comments in the book, but because of Cochran's ability to manage the department and his failure to get clearance to write the book.

Watch a report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Files Discrimination Lawsuit: VIDEO" »


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