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Symbolic resolution puts council ahead of Atlanta mayor on gay rights

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The Atlanta City Council voted 11-2 on Dec. 3 to pass a resolution supporting marriage equality. The vote puts the council ahead of Mayor Kasim Reed, who has stated publicly he does not support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

City Councilmember Alex Wan, who is gay, presented the resolution to the full City Council.

“Folks in the community have been asking and encouraging me to do something. And with Atlanta being the city it is and having such a large LGBT population, I really wanted us to be one of the leaders in the discussion on marriage equality,” Wan said. “This was also very important to me.”

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Atlanta City Council extends bar hours for Atlanta Pride

The Atlanta City Council voted this week to extend the bar hours from Sunday, Oct. 14 at midnight to Monday, Oct. 15 at 2:30 a.m. The measure was led by City Councilmembers Alex Wan and Carla Smith.

Wan, who is gay, says the measure is designed to give Pride attendees a few additional hours to enjoy the city's nightlife.

“We can remove [city ordinance] code every now and again for various reasons,” Wan told GA Voice. “It's far easier to get a waiver for a specific event than a permanent change.”

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Gay Columbus, Ga., City Council candidate, HIV activist pushes local leaders to get tested

Jeremy Hobbs

Jeremy Hobbs, an openly gay HIV activist, is pushing for local elected officials and community leaders in Columbus, Ga. to join him on getting testing on National HIV Testing Day later this month.

Hobbs, 37, is also running for a seat on the Columbus City Council against incumbent Red McDaniels.

“In 2007, I started giving a voice back to people who are [HIV] positive,” Hobbs told GA Voice in phone interview. “So many people want to live in the shadows or not talk about anything. We're trying to face the stigma here locally.”

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More lawsuits filed against city of Atlanta for raid on gay bar

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Attorney Dan Grossman

Ten patrons of the Atlanta Eagle are suing Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and 25 police officers in Fulton County Superior Court, arguing their rights were violated during the botched raid on the gay bar. They allege many of the same offenses in the original lawsuit filed in November 2009, shortly after the raid occurred on Sept. 10, 2009.

Eight other men in the bar the night it was raided settled with the city Sept. 8 for an undisclosed amount of money. The Atlanta City Council will have to approve the settlement and at that time the amount will be made public.

Represented by attorneys Dan Grossman and Gerry Weber, the plaintiffs in the new lawsuit accuse the officers of violating the Fourth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution protecting people from illegal search and seizures. The lawsuit was filed Sept. 8.

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Atlanta City Council honors AIDS Walk

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan

The Atlanta City Council voted unanimously today to approve a resolution of support for the 2011 AIDS Walk Atlanta and 5K Run. The resolution was introduced by City Councilmember Alex Wan, who is gay and represents District 6, which includes Piedmont Park where the walk will be held Oct. 16.

According to a media release issued this afternoon, “The resolution acknowledges the unique challenges that HIV/AIDS presents to citizens of Atlanta and the nation at-large and recognizes the labors undertaken by AIDS Walk Atlanta &5K Run over the past two decades in the form of patient services, education, research and advocacy.”

The council's resolution coincides with a fundraising drive led by Wan where members of the Georgia General Assembly from the Atlanta area are competing to raise money for the AIDS Walk against members of the Atlanta City Council.

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Georgia elected officials come out

Newly out Georgia politicians

Alan Tart came out as gay to his wife in 2000, when his daughter was not yet two years old. The two were promptly divorced. Shortly after Thanksgiving that year, he met David while having a drink at Blake’s in Midtown. The two have been together ever since and are raising Tart’s daughter, now 13.

The couple doesn’t live in Midtown. They live in Milton, the city in northern Fulton County that was incorporated in 2006. Since 2007, Tart has served as a Milton County City Council member. And, he says, he’s never hidden the fact he is gay.

“I have been out. My friends know I’m gay, my work knows I’m gay, my neighborhood knows I’m gay,” Tart said in an interview with the GA Voice.

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Gay Georgia lawmakers invited to prestigious leadership course

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan

The Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute, a nonpartisan professional development organization for LGBT leaders, announced yesterday its 2011 class of David Bohnett Gay & Lesbian Leadership Fellows, which included out Georgia lawmakers Alex Wan and Karla Drenner.

Wan represents Atlanta's 6th District on the Atlanta City Council and Drenner serves Ga. District 86 (DeKalb County) in the General Assembly. Fourteen lawmakers and nonprofit leaders, including one from Ireland, were selected in total.

The Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute will send the fellows to Harvard's Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government program, a two-month leadership course held in June and July, aimed at helping seasoned professionals connect with constituents.

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APD’s Chief Turner responds to residents’ concerns over Zone 5 patrol plan

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner

In light of the Atlanta Police Department's recent announcement that its Zone 5 commander, Major Khirus E. Williams, was stepping down from his post, APD Chief George Turner issued a statement today reassuring Midtown residents that the police department considers the district's security vital to the city's well-being.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Major Williams claims to have been “forced into retirement” after leaking an internal proposal that would have eliminated community-oriented policing. The AJC also reports that Williams was a 26-year veteran of the force and was considered as a possible replacement for Chief Richard Pennington after his retirement in 2010.

Today, Chief Turner responded to accusations today that the department was removing its foot soldiers in Midtown, leaving only officers in patrol cars to respond to 911 calls.