Where are all the gay voters?

Georgia Equality disappointed with turnout

Conspicuous by their absence from the Georgia Equality candidate meet-and-greet last Saturday during Pride weekend were the leading democratic candidates for governor, Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor, neither of whom applied for an endorsement from the state's largest gay rights group.

State Rep. Douglas Dean, D-Atlanta, who earlier endorsed Cox but now says he thinks Taylor will win, was one of many who were disappointed when Cox appeared to waver on her position concerning the gay marriage amendment. "I don't like a candidate who backs off," Dean said. "The only reason I backed Cathy Cox for governor was because I thought she was going to tackle the issues. It showed to me a weakness on her part, that she backed off the gay and lesbian issues."

It's safe to say that organizers were disappointed with the turnout, especially considering the current political climate. Only about 50 people gathered inside Piedmont Park's Magnolia Hall. Many of those assembled were staff for the 15 or so candidates at the front of the room. The biggest issue up for discussion, besides voter apathy, was how to keep a new referendum for a ban on gay marriage off the November ballot.

In 2004, the gay marriage ban passed the Legislature thanks largely to several Democrats on the black caucus, who jumped the party line and voted in favor of the amendment. Dean, a member of the black caucus who is opposed to the ban, is trying to ensure that that doesn't happen again. Dean has been working behind the scenes to convince representatives to vote against an amendment if a special session is convened.

Dean, who says 57 percent of voters in his district voted against the gay marriage ban in 2004, will have his work cut out for him this time. Since 2004, 27 legislative seats that used to belong to Democrats now belong to Republicans.

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