While gay and lesbian couples in Washington continue to make their vows official, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed has publicly endorsed same-sex unions.
In a written announcement, Mayor Reed said he signed a resolution promoting marriage equality for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual citizens.
“Today marks an important day as I announce my support for marriage equality,” said Mayor Reed. “It is well known that I have gone through a good bit of reflection on this issue, but listening to the stories of so many people that I know and care about has strengthened my belief that marriage is a fundamental right for everyone.”
By signing the resolution, Reed believes his support for marriage equality is consistent with equal rights protection guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Mayor Reed has advocated equal rights for gays and lesbian citizens throughout his political career. While serving in the Georgia House of Representatives, he sponsored the only hate crimes bill ever passed in the General Assembly. He also defended the LGBT community’s efforts to adopt children.
When the issue was tackled in 2004, Reed adamantly voted against a measure banning same-sex marriages.
“I believe he will be on the right side of history with this decision,” said Lee Schreter, a longtime friend of Mayor Reed and a shareholder in the law firm of Littler and Mendelson. “I think people have underestimated how important it is to stand up and have your relationship recognized as true marriage, but those attitudes are changing. I’ve always known that Kasim Reed wants people to be treated fairly and this is evidence of that.”
The signed resolution also prohibits discrimination by stores, restaurants, hotels and other public businesses. It also prohibits discrimination in regards to city employment on the basis of sexual orientation.
In addition, the new order gives city employees an opportunity to enroll their domestic partners in health insurance plans and identify them as beneficiaries in pension plans.
“This is a reflection of the respect and concern for me and my husband Mike that Mayor Reed has shown through all the years of our advocating with him and to him,” said Rev. Harry Knox, President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. “I have always felt that Mayor Reed both respected my marriage and cared for Mike and me as people.”
According to the U.S. Census, Atlanta has one of the highest populations of LGBT communities in the nation. Mayor Reed has also joined Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, a non-partisan coalition of more than 200 city mayors who support same-sex marriages.
“I believe in tolerance and acceptance, regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity,” declared Reed. “That creed has been a guiding force for me throughout my life, as reflected by my actions and votes as a lifelong Democrat and elected official in the state of Georgia for more than 14 years.”