CommunityPam's House Blend

Gay folks in Atlanta, it looks like you are going to have to fight for your rights, AGAIN.

This time Shirley Franklin is at the mercy of the GA legislature. Wingnut Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) has submitted a bill to repeal the city’s gay rights ordinances.

Yes, it’s more than a lawsuit about obtaining spousal benefits for gay partners at a country club now. The Right wants to trash Atlanta’s human rights ordinance, and *ss-wipe Earl Ehrhart, the man behind the country club dispute is leading the charge. It’s a sad day when a progressive Southern city like Atlanta is under siege by the religious whack jobs. People need to fight this; we cannot allow these few islands of tolerance and freedom fritter away by the unhinged actions of the American Taliban. Atlanta’s Same-Sex Rights Contested (LATimes):

There is a saying in this city’s artsy, edgy neighborhoods: We’re not in Georgia here, we’re in Atlanta. Congenial to gays and lesbians as well as Fortune 500 companies, Atlanta has thrived as a liberal enclave distinct from the conservative state that surrounds it.

But a bill submitted Tuesday in Georgia’s newly Republican-dominated Legislature would repeal a section of an Atlanta city ordinance that prohibited discrimination against same-sex couples. “You have a true philosophical divide between the state Legislature and the city of Atlanta,” said Rep. Earl Ehrhart, the bill’s sponsor, a Powder Springs Republican and the incoming chairman of the House Rules Committee.

This challenge affects one of the city’s major interest groups. According to the 2000 census, Atlanta has 12,000 same-sex households — the fourth-highest concentration of gay couples among America’s big cities, after San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland, said Gary Gates, co-author of “Gay & Lesbian Atlas.”

Since the 1970s, when Mayor Maynard Jackson made a groundbreaking proclamation in honor of Gay Pride Day, Atlanta’s leaders have been openly supportive of the city’s gay community, said Berl Boykin, who is working on a history of gay activism in Atlanta. Mayor Shirley Franklin, he said, has carried on that tradition.

“It is certainly one of the freest cities in the South and one of the freer ones in America,” Boykin said. When gays and lesbians grow up in the conservative South, “where are they going to come? Atlanta — fabled, fabulous Atlanta.””

Never mind outright secession. The Right intends to quietly elect officials at the local levels over time to effect the same result, culturally cordoning off as much Red space as they can through legislative efforts, further isolating progressive voices. The lazy, and apparently blind Democrats at the national level seem unable or unwilling to see how this is all unfolding and to counter it with equal diligence. They are too busy trying to figure out how to win back the NASCAR voters. Trust me, there are plenty of Blue votes to be had in the South. The civil rights struggle for any minority group will not be won by a public vote.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding