In a largely ceremonial, but nonetheless groundbreaking move, Mayor Kasim Reed on Tuesday announced his support for same-sex marriage.
Reed signed a resolution supporting marriage equality sponsored by openly gay City Councilman Alex Wan that was passed by the Council on Dec. 3. The resolution supports the city’s lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual community by endorsing marriage equality for same-sex couples.
“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.
“Loving couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the right to marry whomever they want. By signing this resolution, I pledge my support to marriage equality for same-sex couples, consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
Since the state, rather than individual cities, must rule on marriage law, the resolution was largely just a symbolic gesture, but Reed’s support is particularly appreciable given the high number of gays and lesbians living in Atlanta. The city was previously named the “gayest city in America” by leading LGBT publication “The Advocate.”
The City of Atlanta has one of the highest LGBT populations in the country, based on US Census and other data.
Mayor Reed also announced that he will join other leading mayors who have already signed the ‘Mayors for Freedom to Marry’ pledge, after earlier being noncommittal.
Reed had previously been ambivalent about supporting gay marriage altogether, saying he was “still wrestling with my own personal beliefs on the issue of marriage,” to Creative Loafing earlier this year.
After President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in May, Reed met with local Atlanta LGBT activists to discuss his own stance on LGBT rights and marriage equality. Though Reed touted his support of LGBT issues, he said he could not yet support marriage.
“I have fought hard for the rights of gays and lesbians my entire political career from protecting adoption rights for gay and lesbian families, to voting against Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage as a state senator, to serving as the state house sponsor for the only hate crimes bill ever passed in the state of Georgia,” he said in June.
During his term in the Georgia House of Representatives, Mayor Reed sponsored the only hate crimes bill ever to pass the General Assembly. As a co-sponsor for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Mayor Reed proposed a measure that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian and nonreligious employers. In 2004, Mayor Reed also voted against the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Georgia.