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Stonewall Dems Launch New GA Organization

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(APN) ATLANTA-The Atlanta Stonewall Democrats (ASD) held a launch celebration this evening for its new Atlanta chapter, which is meant to replace [and absorb] a former Georgia-wide group.

About 70 people packed the Red Chair Club at Amsterdam Walk in Midtown Atlanta for the gala from 6-9pm. Appetizers such as really good spinach artichoke dip were served and mingling commenced.

Nationally, the Stonewall Democrats are a political coalition for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (glbt) Democrats and Democratic activists who support glbt issues.

"Face it, the gay community is a big clique. When will our community come together as one? It sounds so cliche, but really, as one solid firm voice?" Dave Fauntleroy-Harris, 2nd Vice Chair and Board Member of ASD, asked Atlanta Progressive News (APN).

One former member of the Georgia Stonewall Democrats (GSD) was in attendance and told APN the group used to have 500 members but has been in decline. The transition to the new organization, the ASD, appears to be going smoothly.

Democratic Candidates for Georgia Secretary of State, Shyam Reddy, 31, and Angela Moore, who said her age is foxy-forty-something, were both in attendance. "It's only natural I should come and congratulate them," Moore told Atlanta Progressive News.

"We've got the most progressive district in the Southern US," State Senator Sam Zamarripa, said of Midtown Atlanta, where the event was held. "I [at the same time] represent the biggest gay and lesbian district in Georgia. All these groups need to coalesce," Zamarripa said.

"Part of the problem is we allow ourselves to be marginalized," Zamarripa said. "We're about inclusion, educational progress, health care. When we get marginalized, we lose."

The ASD was spearheaded by Kyle Bailey, 22, in October 2005, Bailey told Atlanta Progressive News. Bailey, who is ASD Chair, previously started a Stonewall Democrats chapter at the University of Georgia (Athens, GA), where he received his BA in Political Science.

The primary purposes of ASD are to "educate fellow Democrats about lgbt issues; inform the lgbt community about the differences between the [political] parties... there's a lot of apathy as well we need to address; and elect fair-minded Democrats," Bailey said.

"Because of the lack of an organized presence," Bailey said, some Democratic politicians are afraid to support gay and lesbian issues.

"I'm very much for gay rights," said Jan Hackney, 53, who ran for Georgia House District 48 in November 2004 and will be running again in November 2006, however. Hackney, who is vying to represent the Sandy Spring area, is a stay-at-home mom. "I never thought I'd get involved in politics, but there was no Democratic opposition," she said.

"The lgbt community is a little closer to my reality," Tim Cairl, 30, said, referring to the fact Cairl wears copious hats as the President of Georgia for Democracy (GFD) and a Consultant for Yellow Dog Democrats.

"We wanted this to be a reintroduction of the Stonewall Democrats," Cairl said. The gay and lesbian community "should be one of the largest and most powerful communities in the state. Democrats have a lot more room to gain in Georgia. There are over 100,000 plus lgbt voters," Cairl said.

"Every month we'll be joining an event with another group, including women's groups, labor, transgender, veterans, and others," Cairl said.

An event organizer told APN he was pleased with the turnout of 75 people, whereas 500 were initially invited.

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Matthew Cardinale is Editor of Atlanta Progressive News. He has written previously for the Sun-Sentinel Newspaper, Shelterforce Magazine, The Advocate Magazine, The San Francisco Bay View, and the Berkeley Daily Planet Newspaper. He has also (more...)
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