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Federal Lawsuit Filed Challenging Gay Marriage Ban in Georgia

Georgia

Lambda Legal has filed a federal lawsuit today challenging Georgia's ban on gay marriage on behalf of three same-sex couples and a widow, it announced at a press conference today:

The case was filed on behalf of Christopher Inniss and Shelton Stroman of Snellville (top left), Rayshawn Chandler and Avery Chandler of Jonesboro (top right), Michael Bishop and Shane Thomas of Atlanta (bottom right), and Jennifer Sisson of Decatur.

Joining Inniss and Stroman as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: Rayshawn Chandler, 29, and Avery Chandler, 30, Atlanta Police Department police officers who have been together for almost three years; Michael Bishop, 50, and Shane Thomas, 44, together for seven years and the parents of two children; and Jennifer Sisson, 34, whose wife, Pamela Drenner, died on March 1 at age 49. Jennifer and Pam were married in New York in 2013. Despite being legally married, the State of Georgia has refused to list Jennifer as Pam's wife on Pam's death certificate.

Said Inniss, a veterinarian and pet resort owner:

"Georgia is our home. Our family is here, our business is here, and our community here is a great support for us. Shelton and I have been together for 13 years. We own a home together, we own a business together, and we are raising our son, Jonathan, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but marriage is the only way to ensure that we are treated as the family that we are. We need the protection that marriage affords."

Said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta:

"Every day that same-sex couples in Georgia are denied the freedom to marry, the government sends a message that their families are not worthy of dignity and respect. Georgians believe in the Southern values of love, honor and family, but as long as the State of Georgia continues to bar same-sex couples from marriage, it devalues these families and reinforces unfairness and discrimination."

Read the full complaint HERE.

The Georgia Voice also has a few more interviews with all the plaintiffs.


Georgia Gas Station Owner Proudly Displays Anti-Gay Slur on Sign: VIDEO

Lagrange

A sign at a LaGrange, Georgia gas station is causing controversy, WSBTV reports:

The owner said he put it up because he was sick of customers coming in with saggy pants. The sign calls customers a gay slur if they choose to wear saggy pants.
 
“I came up with that sign, nobody else did,” said Anil Patel, who owns PCA Food Store on Hogansville Road. “Since that sign went up there, I don’t see no pants down in my store, because they read the sign and they decide what they want to be.”

...“It really offends me by them coming in, pants down. So it is not that I’m against them, gay people or anything like that, but just trying to prove a point. If you are going to come in my store, make sure you have your pants on,” Patel told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.
 
Late Thursday night, the owner’s father pulled the signs down but Patel, who is out of town,  plans to come back first thing Friday morning to put the sign back up.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Georgia Gas Station Owner Proudly Displays Anti-Gay Slur on Sign: VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Chalkings At Georgia College

Sidewalk Chalking

Morehouse College and Spelman College of Georgia teamed up for Pride Week 2014 in order to bring awareness of the LGBT communities to students on their respective campuses. After the Monday night kickoff, students tweeted pictures of anti-gay sidewalk chalkings that had been scrawled in response, reading "Homo Sex is a Sin…” and “He loves YOU! He Hates Sin. Jesus Saves.”

This prompted Shane Windmeyer, the Executive Director of Campus Pride to call on the school President and administrators to step in to ensure the safety of campus students.

Religion-based bigotry of this kind is a harsh reminder of the hard work still to do on college campuses, especially at HBCUs [Historically black colleges and universities]. Campus Pride stands with the students at Spelman College and Morehouse College in working to change the campus climate — but, let’s be clear, it is not the responsibility of the students to accommodate their own inclusion and safety.  It is the job of the President and administrators to ensure a safe, welcoming learning environment for all its students.  Now is the time during SpelHouse Pride Week to step up.


Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 11.11.42 AM

At a press conference on Monday, Freedom to Marry is expected to announce a new $1 million television ad campaign in Southern states in the hopes of swaying public opinion and the judges who will decide the fate of state bans on gay unions. As it stands, there are about two dozen lawsuits challenging bans on gay marriage that are pending before state and federal courts in Southern states. The Washington Post reports:

“Freedom to Marry’s national strategy has always been to build a critical mass of states and support to create the climate for the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution. We don’t have to win within every state, but we have to win enough states,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 11.13.09 AMAtlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will join the group at its Monday press conference. The group will also try to tie same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement, by featuring Rep. John Lewis [right], the longtime Georgia Democrat who ran the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in a testimonial.

“I see the right to marriage as a civil rights issue. You cannot have rights for one segment of the population and one group of people and not for everybody,” Lewis says in the video.

Watch Lewis' video for the new campaign, AFTER THE JUMP...

Co-chairs of the new initiative will include Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), as well as Mark McKinnon, a former senior adviser to George W. Bush and Lance Bass, the ‘N Sync singer.

Continue reading "Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


Georgia Senate Candidate Endorses Marriage Equality

Branko RadulovackBranko Radulovack, an underdog Democratic candidate for Georgia’s open Senate seat, gave a ringing endorsement of marriage equality in an interview with Atlanta Progressive News last week.

As a psychiatrist, I believe sexual orientation is a strong genetic component rather than a simple choice.  And, as a result, I see no basis for judging or discriminating against his or her to their sexual orientation.  I am a Christian, and as a Christian, I believe in the separation of church and state.

I don’t think our government should be in the business of discriminating against anyone because of their beliefs.  As a happily married man, I understand the desire to make a lifelong commitment to one person.  I see no legitimate reason to deny that right to someone else.  Pope Frances said, “Who am I to judge?”  That’s a strong statement and I agree with it.

Project Q Atlanta compares Radulovack’s full-throated endorsement with that of the leading Democrat in the race Michelle Nunn, who supports it on a personal level but believes the issue should be left to the states to decide. 


Covenant College Censors Gay Rights Work from Former Student's Alumni Update

Kathryn Brightbill, an alumna of Covenant College, a Christian liberal arts college in Georgia, recently sent in an update to the school's alumni newspaper because she was proud of some of the recent professional work she had accomplished, assisting on research for an amicus brief in the Prop. 8 and DOMA cases.

Writes Brightbill: Brightbill

And so, I filled out the alumni update form to say that I’m a student at UF Law and was asked to work on the Family Equality Council, et al. brief in Perry and Windsor, and that as part of that I coauthored the LGBTQ Youth and Young Adult Survey as a joint project between the University of Florida Center on Children and Families and the Emory Child Rights Project. All very professional and academic. There was no intent to make a political statement. It wasn’t a protest against Covenant or the PCA’s position on homosexuality in general or marriage equality in particular. It was just a nice, generic alumni update about what I’ve been up to recently.

So what did the school publish?

Kathryn Brightbill '03 is currently studying law at the University of Florida Law School.

Adds Brightbill:

The only part of my update that Covenant published was my name and the fact that I’m a student at UF. The rest of the update, the professional accomplishments that prompted the decision to send an update in the first place? Gone. Erased. Unacknowledged.

Covenant tells me that they won’t run it because they won’t print anything that’s counter to the position of the college. Apparently doing so would “celebrate” something they disagree with. The disclaimer in the masthead that the contents of the View may not necessarily reflect the views of the college isn’t enough. Neither was my suggestion that they print a disclaimer before the updates specifically stating that updates were for informational purposes only and did not imply endorsement by the school.

Read her full post here.


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