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Openly gay Savannah city council candidate endorsed by Georgia Equality

Pam Miller running for Savannah City CouncilGeorgia Equality is hosting a reception for openly gay Savannah City Council candidate Pam Miller on May 6.

Miller, who is endorsed by Georgia Equality, would be the first openly gay Savannah elected official and the first openly gay elected official outside metro Atlanta, Georgia Equality states in a press release. Georgia Equality is the state's largest LGBT advocacy organization in the state.

Hosts for the reception are Georgia's only openly gay state Reps. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) and Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) as well as Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie deNobriga of the city of Pine Lake.

The reception will be Friday, May 6, from 6:30-8 p.m. at Cowtippers.

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Gay East Point councilmember endorsed by Georgia Equality, Victory Fund

Georgia Equality, the state’s largest LGBT political advocacy group, announced today its endorsement of Lance Rhodes for East Point City Council – Ward B. This is the third time that Rhodes has received Georgia Equality’s backing.

Georgia Equality cites the two-term councilmember’s ability to introduce and pass “several pieces of legislation that advance equality” as the motivation for the endorsement.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund has also endorsed Rhodes for a third time.

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Atlanta City Council apologizes to Eagle lawsuit plantiffs

Atlanta City Councilmember Michael Julian Bond

The Atlanta City Council voted this week to officially apologize to the plaintiffs of the Atlanta Eagle federal lawsuit that was settled by the city for $1.025 million last month.

During the Jan. 3 meeting, the council voted 14-0 to apologize to the plaintiffs for the illegal raid on the gay bar, during which police searched and ran background checks on all patrons. Mayor Kasim Reed also issued an apology to the plaintiffs last month.

The apology, proposed by Councilmember Michael Julian Bond, reads, in part, “Whereas, the City of Atlanta is a mosaic of ethnicities, races, religions and sexual orientations … and Whereas, it is imperative that all members of Atlanta’s varied communities — be they African American, Hispanic, Asian, LGBT, youth or senior citizens — feel their freedoms are respected, now therefore, the City Council of the City of Atlanta hereby resolves and offers an apology to the plaintiffs named in the civil action styled Calhoun, et. al. v. Pennington, et. al.”

Bond, who had offered to apologize to all people impacted by the raid last year, said this week he wanted to follow through with an apology to the plaintiffs because of the “egregious nature of the raid.”

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Gay city councilmember joins Public Safety Committee

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan

Gay Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan will sit on the Public Safety Committee during the 2011 session. The first scheduled meeting of the Public Safety Committee was this morning.

Glen Paul Freedman, Chair of the Atlanta Police Department’s LGBT Advisory Board, said today that Wan’s addition to the Public Safety Committee was a welcome move by the City Council.

“This will be helpful to the members of the LGBT APD Advisory Group and our community to have Alex's voice on this important committee,” Freedman said in a statement released today.

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Federal judge signs settlement agreement between city, Atlanta Eagle over gay bar raid

Attorney Dan Grossman and plaintiff Geoff Calhoun embrace after the Atlanta City Council voted to approve a settlement offer in the Atlanta Eagle raid case

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten has signed the settlement agreement between the city of Atlanta and plaintiffs of the Atlanta Eagle today, according to his clerk, making the more than $1 million settlement official and concluding the lawsuit over the botched gay bar raid.

The Atlanta City Council voted 14-0 on Monday to approve the settlement that included the $1.025 million monetary payout to the plaintiffs as well as ordering the Atlanta Police Department "to take certain actions in regard to their standard operating procedures" in the wake of the raid and lawsuit.

The settlement resolution includes $1.025 million to go into an escrow account with Lambda Legal, one of two nonprofit legal groups that joined attorney Dan Grossman in representing the Eagle plaintiffs. The Southern Center for Human Rights also joined the case. Patrons of the Atlanta Eagle filed the federal lawsuit against the city and dozens of Atlanta Police Department officers in November 2009 following the botched raid of the gay bar on the night of Sept. 10, 2009.

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City faces new complaint over Atlanta Eagle raid; investigations continue as lawsuit settles

Atlanta Eagle plaintiff Geoff Calhoun

Geoff Calhoun held his face in his hands during the Atlanta City Council meeting on Dec. 6, visibly nervous as he leaned forward in his chair in the council’s chamber at City Hall.

Calhoun was a patron of the Atlanta Eagle, a gay leather bar, on Sept. 10, 2009, the night it was raided by undercover Atlanta Police Department officers and the APD’s Red Dog Unit.

As a plaintiff in the federal civil rights lawsuit filed by patrons who were detained and searched during the raid, Calhoun was waiting anxiously to see if the council would vote to approve a settlement the city reached with the plaintiffs on Dec. 3.

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Savannah council approves domestic partner benefits

The Savannah City Council unanimously passed a vote today to authorize the city manager to implement a domestic partner program for city employees.

The vote was approved unanimously by the nine-member council.

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Atlanta City Council honors 40 years of Atlanta Pride

Atlanta Pride Executive Director JP Sheffield speaks at the Atlanta City Council Chambers

The Atlanta City Council presented the Atlanta Pride Committee a proclamation today to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Atlanta Pride during its regular council meeting.

The annual fest takes place this weekend at Piedmont Park.

Alex Wan, the first openly gay male elected to the City Council, presented the proclamation to the APC, saying that while Atlanta Pride marks a milestone of 40 years, he also is marking a milestone in his life.

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APN Editor sues city of Atlanta, council members

The editor of Atlanta Progressive News is suing the city of Atlanta and members of the Atlanta City Council, including Alex Wan, who is gay and represents District 6.
The lawsuit demands that the City Council make public a vote made during a council retreat about limiting public comments during council committee meetings.

Matthew Cardinale, who is gay, filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court on May 17 alleging the council did not keep an official record of the vote and therefore violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

Council members named in the suit are Wan, Ceasar Mitchell, Felicia A. Moore, Carla Smith, Ivory Lee Young, Howard Shook, Joyce Sheperd and H. Lamar Willis. They were served copies of the suit on May 24. Rhonda Dauphin Johnson, municipal clerk, is also named in the suit as is the City of Atlanta.

Cardinale has been writing about the suit on his website.