GetEQUAL GA representative Paul Schappaugh and Queer Justice League members Art Izzard and Brad Ploeger, along with Monica Helms, ShiShi Goodman and Betty Couvertier, walked into the Capitol to ask to meet with the lawmaker.
The process included filling out a form to ask Franklin to come off the floor of the House chamber where legislators were meeting, handing the written request to a page who delivered the note to Franklin and hoping he would come out to meet with them. After waiting approximately 20 minutes and a no-show by Franklin, the activists decided to deliver the letter to his office.
The letter was signed by: QJL, GetEQUAL GA, Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Progressive Christian Alliance, Marietta PFLAG, MEGA Family Project, Savannah Queer Power, MondoHomo, Atlanta Stonewall Democrats, Georgia Log Cabin Republicans and the Libertarian Party of Cobb County.
“Your comment comparing members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities to drug dealers, is offensive. We believe that the climate of hateful rhetoric must come to an end (on both sides of the political aisle). Unfortunately, your comments do nothing to accomplish this, and in fact exacerbates the situation,” the letter reads in part.
The letter demands Franklin issue a formal and personal apology and that his staff undergo sensitivity and diversity training.
“While we respect that every individual is entitled to choose their own values and morals, we do not accept comparisons of your constituents to criminals,” the letter further states.
QJL asked for an apology from Franklin in a letter in early February, but Franklin refused, telling the Marietta Daily Journal, “I will not apologize for making references to what the Bible teaches. If anyone has a problem with what the Bible teaches then their problem is with God and not with me.
When the group of activists went to Franklin’s office, they were greeted by his assistant who promised to put the letter on his desk. A security officer was also called by someone, but he remained outside the office watching the meeting.
“We’re disappointed state Rep. Franklin did not come out to meet with us. We had hoped to start a dialogue with him today,” said Izzard. “We certainly tried to open the door and a dialogue.”
Added Schappaugh, “Of course we’re disappointed that he didn’t come out to speak to us today, but I think we fulfilled our mission and that was to deliver our demand for an apology. He did criticize and slander the gay community here in Georgia. He’s made national headlines with his comments. We’ve opened the door to a dialogue today. He owes us at least a sit down. I think today was a way for us to start that process.”
Photo: LGBT activists (from left) Paul Schappaugh, Art Izzard and Betty Couvertier deliver a letter to state Rep. Bobby Franklin’s assistant demanding he apologize to the gay community for recent anti-gay remarks. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)