AJC calls out Atlanta mayor for gay marriage ‘flip-flop’

On issue of #MarriageEquality: Mayor Reed DID NOT flip-flop. @KasimReed got it right! #LGBT #GaPol #AJCFalse

While the mayor should be commended for his change of heart, the AJC – and it pains me to say this – is right about his stance on the issue. The mayor was not a supporter of same-sex marriages and now he is a supporter of same-sex marriages.

Reed spent the better part of three years since his inauguration “wrestling” with the issue. From community forums to interviews with this publication, the mayor’s response was generally the same. But after the Atlanta City Council passed a resolution supporting such unions, the mayor came around and announced his support for marriage equality in December.

“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,” Reed said last summer after President Barack Obama announced his support for marriage equality.

“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,” Reed continued.

Why exactly is a change of position a bad thing for a politician? If we demand our politicos entrench themselves in their positions, new circumstances and situations can come along that make those policies look mighty silly down the road. Mayor Reed is falling into the trap of trying to defend the idea that he didn’t change is position on marriage. That’s just not true.

From the article:

First, a quick reminder about the Flip-O-Meter. It makes no value judgment. Some might see a flip as a sign of weakness or political opportunism, but it can also be the outcome of earnest re-evaluation of the facts.

Certainly Reed’s position has shifted. Some pundits have already labeled it a flip-flop. But we here at PolitiFact have learned that elected officials stake out their positions very carefully. Does his current stance count as a true flip?

The column states that Reed spokesperson Sonji Jacobs says the mayor’s position is, of course, not a flop. “Mayor Reed never championed legislation or policies against marriage equality,” she told the AJC in an email.

The GA Voice’s editor and co-founder Laura Douglas-Brown is also quoted in the story. She pointed out to the AJC that Reed’s reluctance to support same-sex marriage could have easily cost him the tight 2009 race against Mary Norwood, who was an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage.

Reed won the race by a slim margin of 700 votes and was defeated handily in the gay-favorite neighborhoods making up District 6.

“He felt it hurt him, but he wasn’t going to change his position because of politics,” Douglas-Brown told the AJC.

The article also noted Reed’s vote against the the 2004 state Senate resolution to put a ban on gay marriage on the ballot and his support of other LGBT issues when he served in the state legislature.

“In the biggest, most public debate in Georgia, he did vote against putting an amendment on the ballot that restricted rights,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization.

We demand so much from our elected officials. One mistake here or a miscalculated vote or policy there and voters won’t hesitate to give them the boot. It shouldn’t have to be that way.

I have three words, Mr. Mayor. Embrace the flop.


Top photo: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (file)