CHAIR: Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson: Isakson scored 15 out of 100 in the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent congressional scorecard on LGBT issues. He is outspoken in his opposition to same-sex marriage and voted in favor of a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman.
Vice chair: Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens: In 2011, Olens blasted Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding for dropping its defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act for the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG). The group, led by Republican House Speaker John Boehner, stepped in to defend DOMA when President Obama’s administration refused.
Other NOTABLE members Gov. Roy Barnes: A Democrat, Barnes served as Georgia’s governor from 1999 to 2003, losing a second-term to Republican Sonny Perdue. When Barnes sought to be Georgia’s governor again in 2010, he said in an interview with the GA Voice that he supported the 2004 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Michael J. Coles: Entrepreneur who founded the Great American Cookie Company and former CEO of Caribou Coffee, Coles ran an unsuccessful campaign as a moderate Democrat against Newt Gingrich in 1996. He distanced himself from national Democrats and President Bill Clinton and shunned the “liberal” tag. In 1998, he lost a bid for U.S. Senate against Republican Paul Coverdell.
Judge Lark Ingram: Appointed Cobb County Superior Court Judge in 1995 by Gov. Zell Miller.
Charles R. Yates Jr.: Was elected chairman of the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta board of directors in 2008. In 2012, was the recipient of the 2012 Bransby Christian Leadership Award.
Brooks and Recinos were asked by Wilson to email her what they wanted for their ceremony — bar, catering — and she would draw up a proposal. They did and were eager to hear back.
After several days passed, they tried repeatedly to contact Wilson. They say they were told several times she was unavailable. Eventually they were connected to her voicemail and left a message asking about their wedding proposal.
Instead of hearing from Wilson, the couple received an email from Josh Laskowski, the general manager of the Georgian Club, on Feb. 26. Laskowski asked them to meet with him at the club.
On March 1, when they arrived at the club, Laskowski was there to meet them as well as Anthony Mullins, chief operating officer of the Futren Corporation, which manages the Georgian Club.
“Anthony did all the talking,” Brooks said. “He said, ‘I don’t know if you know anything about this club, but it is very conservative’ and because of that the club would host the reception but not the wedding.
“It was all very cordial,” Brooks said.
But on March 8, Recinos received a voicemail from Mullins saying they would also not host the reception.
In the voicemail, Mullins explains that a courtyard the couple was thinking of using could not be rented separately. He also said the club would not host their reception.
“We’ve also thought about this reception a little bit more and I don’t think we’re going to be able to accommodate you guys with this ceremony and reception and we’d rather just pass on hosting your event,” Mullins said in the voicemail, provided to GA Voice.
“I’m sure that’s disappointing to you but I would really want you to have a great time and with all the difficulties you’d have to go through to make this happen I wouldn’t want you guys putting your event at risk. I’m sorry we are not able to host your event and wish you guys good luck,” Mullins said.
Laskowski from the Georgian Club declined to comment about the incident.
Board filled with Ga. politicians
Brooks said he and Recinos were very disappointed. Curious, they decided to look more closely at the Georgian Club website and noticed the club’s board of directors included such conservative stalwarts as Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens.
Isakson received a score of just 15 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s latest scorecard on LGBT issues. Olens criticized law firm King & Spalding for dropping its defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act for the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.
The board also includes former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat who stated his opposition to gay marriage in his last campaign.
“It was a little bit of shock to us,” Brooks said. “I understand it’s a private club. But I think people should know.”
Recinos and Brooks said they continue to search for a venue and they were discriminated against because they were a gay couple seeking to use the conservative club’s facilities.
“The wedding is definitely still on. Hateful opinions of a few narrow-minded people do nothing to change our commitment to each other,” Brooks said. “We have begun the venue search again, and we hope to find a venue that we love that also welcomes LGBT clients.”
Club listed on LGBT-friendly website?
Recinos and Brooks said they found out about the Georgian Club from www.gayweddings.com, a website that provides links to LGBT-friendly venues, photographers, florists and other vendors for a wedding ceremony for same-sex couples.
Kathryn Hamm, president of gayweddings.com, said the Georgian Club was listed on weddingwire.com, a partner website. Weddingwire.com does not focus on LGBT-friendly vendors.
“I’ve heard back from the team at WeddingWire and they were able to confirm that they [the Georgian Club] do appear on WeddingWire and their account reflects that they are not listed on www.gayweddings.com.
“And, unfortunately, we’re not able to track retroactively if the vendor has ever appeared in our directory so I can’t answer your question about when or if they appeared in our directory,” she added.
Top photo: Manny Recinos and Thomas Brooks wanted to hold a commitment ceremony at the Georgian Club but were eventually denied. They say they were discriminated against by the private club. (Courtesy photo)