The Atlanta city council on Monday approved a resolution supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, despite Mayor Kasim Reed’s previously stated opposition to same-sex marriage.
The resolution, introduced by Alex Wan, the council’s only openly gay member, passed by a vote of 11-2.
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Wan told the GA Voice that he had been working on the resolution for awhile but decided to introduce it Monday after feeling like the timing was right.
“Folks in the community have been asking and encouraging me to do something. And with Atlanta being the city it is and having such a large LGBT population, I really wanted us to be one of the leaders in the discussion on marriage equality,” he said. “This was also very important to me.”
For the past approximately two months, Wan said he has been answering questions from council members who wanted to know, for example, the difference between marriage equality and civil unions and why it was important to make a statement even if the resolution has no legal impact on gay marriage in Georgia.
“Some didn’t understand the concept of marriage equality and civil unions. Some wanted to know why the city should take a position on this when it has no impact,” Wan told the GA Voice. “I explained to them the symbolic statement it makes and that it was more than just having the rights.”
The resolution states, in part:
WHEREAS, the City of Atlanta has a rich history in the civil rights movement and and is rightfully considered one of the most progressive cities in the country regarding its policies protecting equal rights for all citizens; and
WHEREAS, the City Atlanta has one of the highest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBT”) populations per capita, ranking third among major American cities; and
WHEREAS, the Atlanta Code of Ordinances (“Code”) has numerous non-discrimination provisions that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by Atlanta businesses, … in housing sales and rentals …., and by stores, hotels, restaurants and other public accommodations …; and
WHEREAS, City law also prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in the City’s own employment decisions […]. The City offers its employees the ability to enroll a domestic partner for coverage under the employee’s health insurance plan, and to name a domestic partner as the recipient of the employee’s pension benefits; and
WHEREAS, in 2004, the City passed resolution … opposing an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would ban same-sex marriages in Georgia; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ATLANTA that the Atlanta City Council supports marriage equality for same-sex couples.
While the resolution is largely symbolic, has no legal impact and that same-sex marriage remains illegal in Georgia, this isn’t the first time the Atlanta city council has taken a stand on LGBT rights.
In 2004, the the council voted 13-1 to state its opposition to the Georgia constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and in 2006, the council voted 11-2 to support the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the former ban on openly gay service members.