The body of the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) arrived in Atlanta to lie in state at the Georgia State Capitol. As the civil rights icon’s hearse made its way through the city, it made several stops at notable sites, including the rainbow crosswalk at 10th Street and Piedmont to pay tribute to Lewis’s allyship with the LGBTQ community and vocal support throughout his political career for its rights.
At 12:00 in the first video below.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examined Lewis’s early and staunch support for gay rights: “Lewis supported same-sex marriage in the early 2000s, years before many fellow African Americans and Democrats embraced the issue, and more than a decade prior to the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing the unions. Lewis compared the struggle for the equal treatment of LGBTQ people to his work on the front lines of the civil rights movement in an October 2003 Boston Globe editorial.”
Wrote Lewis in that editorial: “We cannot keep turning our backs on gay and lesbian Americans. I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”
“Some say let’s choose another route and give gay folks some legal rights but call it something other than marriage,” Lewis continued. “We have been down that road before in this country. Separate is not equal. The rights to liberty and happiness belong to each of us and on the same terms, without regard to either skin color or sexual orientation. Some say they are uncomfortable with the thought of gays and lesbians marrying. But our rights as Americans do not depend on the approval of others. Our rights depend on us being Americans.”
Read his full editorial HERE.
The AJC notes that Lewis lobbied for the Human Rights Campaign during the ’90s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ era, and was one of two Georgia lawmakers who refused to sign the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Lewis also stood out against Georgia’s ban on gay adoption.