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Watch the Atlanta vote

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of other authors at box turtle bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2009

From Fox News:

Gay marriage is not on the ballot in Atlanta today, but the issue could make a difference in the race for Mayor. The ongoing gay marriage and gay rights debate has become a flashpoint in an election that could seat the city’s first white mayor since 1973. Both candidates have been pushed into a struggle to prove who is more gay-friendly to win the coveted vote of Atlanta’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community.

The two candidates, former Georgia State Senator Kasim Reed, who is black, and current City Council member Mary Norwood, who is white, are expected to split the city’s heterosexual votes along racial lines.

But Atlanta has a large gay voting block, about 12% of the populace. And the two candidates are each seeking to appeal to these constituents, hoping they will provide the margin of victory.

Norwood has, as I see it, two advantages. First, unlike Reed who favors civil unions, Norwood has long and vocally supported marriage equality. This should give her at least some advantage.

And secondly, Reed is black.

I am not suggesting that gay people are racists or that they generally vote based on skin color (though, of course, racism is present in the gay community just as it is in every community). However, I think that at this point in time there are increased tensions between the gay community and the African American community. And these tensions are the logical outcome of what appears on the surface to be an aggressive attack on gay people by leaders in the black community.

We look over the recent past and we see that in many, many instances those who are leaders in opposition to gay concerns, be it in DC, Maryland, California, or within the Obama administration, can seem to be disproportionately African American. This may be a product of an effort by white anti-gay activists to direct attention to black preachers in a desire to deflect comparisons of anti-gay animus to racism, but polls consistently show that black Americans are far more favorable of discrimination against gay citizens than are any other racial subgroup.

Although there are many principled and caring African American leaders who are committed to equality for all (who, sadly, don’t receive enough press), there is a perception that black politicians cannot be counted on to support our community. So be it fair or not, I think that race will sway gay voters to Norwood.

If, indeed, the election comes down to the gay vote, I suspect that Norwood will be successful. The question I wonder is: We know that if Reed wins, Fox will see this as a rejection of marriage equality; but will a Norwood victory be declared as Atlanta’s endorsement of same-sex marriage?

Comments

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Burr
December 1st, 2009 | LINK

Err.. the theory is on a bit of touchy ground. How many of that 12% are black themselves, and would they hold that against fellow blacks like the rest of gays?

Transplanted Lawyer
December 1st, 2009 | LINK

Not at all, by anyone including Fox News. No one will be able to get past the race issue and consider that maybe, some voters actually tried to decide based on issues.

Robert Hammond
December 1st, 2009 | LINK

Nope. No racism here. I hate anti-gay activists regardless of skin color. :-)

Burr
December 1st, 2009 | LINK

Wow this one is down to the wire.

Burr
December 1st, 2009 | LINK

Fewer than a 1000 votes separate them. Looks like a recount is on the way. In other results (from ajc.com):

“With their wins, Simone Bell becomes first black lesbian elected to a state Legislature in the United States. Alex Wan becomes first gay man and Asian American man elected to Atlanta City Council.”

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