Reed ran for mayor supporting civil unions for same-sex couples. His opponent, former Atlanta City Council member Mary Norwood, embraced the “m” word.
Reed released a statement at the time:
I respect President Obama’s decision to stand in support of marriage equality. 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.
While I am still wrestling with my own personal beliefs on the issue of marriage, I deeply appreciate the contributions gays and lesbians make to our city every single day and I remain committed to Atlanta’s vibrant and diverse LGBT community.
Alexander highlights recent victories in the equality movement and suggests that Reed’s position might have more to do with future political aspirations than his heart.
Marriage equality is now the Democratic Party’s platform: the first president to support marriage equality just won re-election; Maryland, Washington, and Maine became the first states to approve gay marriage by ballot initiative; and Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment to ban it.
In other words, the irreversible momentum of marriage equality in the United States was made official last Election Day. The direction is clear, and history does not look back kindly on politicians who hold out as disfavored minorities seek equality under the law. It’s time for Reed’s tiresome episode of Lucha Libre to come to an end.
It’s fine for someone to have personal or religious objections to same-sex marriage: they need not participate in such ceremonies if their religion forbids it, and they’re free to voice their disagreement. But for someone – particularly a politician – to argue that the civil inequality of a disfavored minority must be maintained due to his religious beliefs is ridiculous. Moreover, it cruelly ignores the many religious people who believe in a God that doesn’t hate gay marriage. Inequality for gays is not the only religious position – it never was.
Reed knows that civil unions have been deemed unconstitutional by nearly every court that has considered them. Separate institutions only serve to empower and lend credence to prejudice. His resistance to gay marriage shows how stubbornly he wishes to distinguish himself from President Obama and to keep himself separate from the winning platform of the national Democratic Party. Why? It may help him in some other future contest. Perhaps it will be useful for post-mayoral political ambitions involving redder constituencies.