Early voting is going on right now. Election Day for local offices is May 24. Go Vote.
Early voting is going on right now. Election Day for local offices is May 24. Go Vote.
From Candy Ohara:
THIS FRIDAY!!! The Third “Month of AniMAYtion” Feature is…-=ASTRO BOY=-! ***Everyone Is Different…Everyone Wants To Belong*** Join YOUR Friends @ LGBT Movie Night!!! Fridays…at 7PM!
As noted before, LGBT Movie Nights are now held Fridays at 7:00pm at Forgiving Heart Church, 2946 Grant Road. Hopefully, we won’t have a movie-killing glitch like last Friday. Argh!
I took several photos from the 31st Annual Black History Month Breakfast at the Columbus Trade & Convention Center, Monday February 15, 2015. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas was the guest speaker, and the event had luminaries from all over the city, representing different sectors of society from fraternities to AFLAC to politics to Columbus Regional Health.
Several individuals were given awards for their years of community involvement: City Manager Isaiah and State Rep. Carolyn Hugley were jointly offered the “Legacy of Leadership” Award, Muscogee County Democrats Chair Saundra Ellison was offered the “Unsung Hero” award, and both Brandon Hicks and Gwenetta Wright were both offered the “Emerging Leader” award.
DISCLOSURE: My thanks to Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia who offered up to 8 free seats at the breakfast to Muscogee County Young Democrats, of which I am a part. I am also paid by the Muscogee County Democrats to maintain their official website and social media.
Come out and see some of your favorite Queens of the Chattahoochee Valley at the C.V. Pride Benefit Show on Saturday August 29th! Buy your “tickets” earlier from a C.V. Pride Volunteer and save earlier in the day at the Macy’s Shop for a Cause Event! Tickets are $5 and will be sold throughout the week from C.V. Pride Volunteers, at our Macy’s booth on Saturday and at entrance to the show. Don’t miss out!
Initially, the Festival was cancelled due to lack of funding. But that has apparently changed. From Joshua Clay-Wheat, CV Pride Center Director:
CV Pride welcomes you to come join us at our 17th annual Pride Festival! This festival has been being held at Flat Rock Park, but this year we’re having it at the CV Pride Community Center and surrounding area!
ATTENTION: We are currently looking for the following for Pride:
1.) Pride Committee members to help plan and coordinate the festival. If you’re interested, please contact Joshua Clay-Wheat
2.) Financial and decorative donations for the festival. If you have anything to donate, please contact Kevin Blackstock
3.) Vendors. If you are interested in setting up a booth, please contact Kevin Blackstock, Joshua Wheat or Nichole Red Tanner
4.) Entertainment. If you’re interested in performing, please contact Candy Ohara
Last year’s Festival was hit with torrential downpour at Flat Rock Park, which delayed the event for at least an hour. The switch of venue to CV Pride Center may likely face a logistics issue in regards to parking space along 13th Street and building occupancy within the former sign store which houses the Center.
However, this will be a return of the Festival to having a larger shelter, as in years past, the Festival had once used a large shelter at Flat Rock Park in which to hold Pride. The open-side shelter burned down some time after the 2010 festival, resulting in subsequent Prides being divided between a small lodge in the Park for vendor booths and the surrounding outside space being cordoned off for drag and other performances.
This year’s CV Pride Festival, the 17th in the festival’s run since 1999, promises to offer a more accessible experience for those who live closer to uptown Columbus, compared to the drive required to the near-edge of Muscogee county to reach Flat Rock Park.
Finally, holding the festival in a dedicated LGBT-affirming safe space like CV Pride Center may offer a new experience for LGBT pridegoers, even in a time as far removed from the typical Pride festival as September. While June’s Colgay Pride focuses on advocacy, held a Pride march and is more business-friendly (a must on Broadway), September’s CV Pride Festival will take more advantage of the Center’s safe space for freedom of expression. Expect dance, music, food, performances, vendors, activism, and general edginess.
Check the press release.
From Jeremy Hobbs/CVBWF:
CVBWF Inc is Proud to Announce that this years AIDS Candlelight Memorial will be held at the Lake Oliver Marina at 5501 River Road in Columbus Georgia on May 17th from 2:30 pm to 4 pm. This will be a new stage for our Annual Aids Candlelight Memorial that will include a very beautiful lake front setting for our outdoor candlelight vigil. We are very excited about this new location and looking forward to seeing everyone there for this solemn occasion as we remember our pioneers who paved the way for those living today. Our event will only last about an hour this year so we need to make sure we have musical selections played from our friends in the community. If you would like to take place in this years memorial please call Jeremy Scott Hobbs at 706-580-6239 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See my video from last year’s AIDS Candlelight Vigil, which was held at the Government Center downtown.
From my friend Dominick Perkins:
In one day 46 people have found it in their hearts to give a total of $1,305 as a way of saying thanks to Kantessa. Though $1,300 was the goal, the purpose of this campaign was to provide people with an opportunity to give if they had it in their heart to do so. In keeping with that, we will keep it open as long as people still have a desire to give. Thanks for the support.
Kantessa Smith is a waitress at Country Barbecue in Columbus who became Internet-famous by using Facebook with her manager to track down and return a stray envelope containing $1,300 to a couple. Smith is a single mother of two children and received a $100 reward from the couple, so Dominick Perkins set up a GoFundMe page for Kantessa Smith and her children.
As of yesterday, the fund has raised far more than the amount which she returned to the couple, and the fundraiser remains open. Go help!
Senator Josh McKoon (R) of Columbus Georgia will not budge. Governor Pence of Indiana & Governor Hutchinson of Arkansas and the North Carolina Carolina Governor now all agree the wording of SB 129 and other RFRA Bills like it ARE NOT NEEDED and must be changed to ensure the civil liberties of citizens and protect our citizens from discrimination. McKoon however is patiently waiting for the 2016 legislation to start up so he can push SB 129 once again. Millions of Dollars in Revenue and Taxes will be lost in the State of Georgia if this bill passes. The Walking Dead and other programs that film here will stop filming here if the bill passes. The Senator was elected to serve ALL the people…not just some or more importantly to feed his own selfish politically motivated agenda. However as we have seen Josh does not serve all the people nor does he care what the people have to say. Senator McKoon has been described from one Atlanta Senator “Totally Disconnected from the voice of the people and He Doesn’t Have a Clue what’s really going on in our state.” And the Director of Colgay Pride Jeremy Hobbs said in a Press Conference on 03/31/15 “I voted for Josh in 2010 and today I publicly apologize to the people of Columbus for helping put him into office, because I feel the burden of responsibility upon my shoulders that I helped him enact such a horrible bill that does nothing but divide our state and work to discriminate.”
Josh McKoon will not stop his quest to pass a bill which is nothing more than a license to discriminate. McKoon will not allow the bill to be amended to include the provisions of protection from discrimination and the protections of our civil liberties. The Religious Freedoms of our people are already protected in the United States Constitution and furthermore within our own State Constitution which has more Religious Freedoms provisions than any other in the country.
So, Our only course of action left is simple to RECALL GA STATE SENATE 29 and remove Josh McKoon from office today. Join us and help spread the word that we will no longer sit back and watch Josh McKoon turn Georgia into a State of Hate. With so much work to be done in our state with Infrastucture needs, Road Development, Business and Job Growth and more importantly working to lay the tracks down for the Passenger Rail that will connect Columbus to Atlanta bills like these should not even be on Josh’s mind. SO why is it he refuses to hear the people? In Fact Josh Blocks anyone who doesn’t agree with his bill from Social Media tools like Facebook and Twitter. Or when they show him documents or proof to back their argument he dismisses them as propaganda and calls the person a left wing finactic. This is not leadership and Josh McKoon who was elected to serve all the people REFUSES to serve All the People. We the People….Means ALL People…Not Just Some. So today we ask you to sign our petition to remove Josh McKoon as Georgia State Senator District 29.
Jeremy Scott Hobbs is a local civil rights activist and former candidate for Columbus Consolidated Government City Council. He is Executive Director of the Chattahoochee Valley Better Way Foundation, an HIV support network, and organizes the Colgay Pride Festival every June since 2014. Hobbs is a former member of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Columbus-Phenix City Metropolitan Planning Organization. He can be reached by Twitter @hobbsjeremys or Facebook.
Here in Columbus, where the sponsor and author of SB 129 (State Sen. Josh McKoon) hails from, local activism and media outreach against the bill has gained increasing momentum. I have also participated in much of this activism, and got a lot of nice photos and video of these events.
After the passage of the patently-lopsided bill in both the State Senate (overwhelmingly and with unethical tactics in committee), Georgia Unites Against Discrimination (GUAD, a collaboration between HRC-Atlanta and Georgia Equality) called for a rally on March 17 against the bill in front of the State Capitol building in Atlanta. Patricia Lassiter, Tom McDaniel and other local activists organized a bus trip to Atlanta to represent LGBT and Allied Columbus residents in opposition to RFRA. We heard preachers of multiple religions speak against the bill, including the catchy statement by Rabbi Joshua Heller of Atlanta’s Congregation B’Nai Torah: “Not in My Name, Not in Our Name, Not in God’s Name!”
The House Judicial (Civil) Special Subcommittee passed the bill on March 24, the bill was slated to pass the House Judicial Committee as early as March 26.
The day of the hearing for the bill, a phone bank in Columbus was organized by Lassiter hours before in order to move Georgia residents against the bill. However, shortly after yours truly arrived to participate, word was received online that the bill had been stalled in the committee by an amendment submitted by Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven). Yet we persevered and made calls from 6 to 8 pm.
Hastily called hours before by Charryse Wheeler and Angel Bigger, with attendance by Rabbi Beth Schwartz of Temple Israel Columbus and Rev. Grace Burton-Edwards of St. Thomas Episcopal, the rally had an estimated attendance of 20-25 people (not including two cameras of the press in attendance) at the Government Center downtown. Participants spoke with sincerity about the role of discrimination in their lives and the public roles of religion in their own relationship with their home city and with each other. Bigger’s story, in particular, was tearful and impactful.
However, minutes before the event was to start, McKoon’s wishes for a rescheduled House Judiciary Committee meeting and vote on the unamended bill was shot down when the meeting was cancelled and postponed for an as-yet-unannounced date.
At a final rally organized by Lassiter and Hobbs (this time two days before), about 25-30 people returned to the government center to hear Lassiter, Hobbs, Dan Hutto and yours truly speak against the bill.
Lassiter, an energetic activist in local progressive politics and volunteer on the 2014 campaigns for both Mayor Tomlinson and the Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign, was fulsome with criticism of McKoon’s conduct as District 129’s senator, and vowed to fight to take him down. Hobbs, the CEO of the Chattahoochee Valley Better Way Foundation (an HIV-positive support network) and a 2010 voter for McKoon’s ethics-centered 1st-term platform, told of his sense of betrayal by McKoon’s turn toward the religious right’s prejudices.
Hobbs, Lassiter and myself spoke to the Ledger-Enquirer after the rally.
After both rallies held at the Government Center, Hobbs hawked posters to attendees for his “We Serve All” business sticker campaign and the upcoming 2nd annual Colgay Pride event on Broadway downtown June 6th.
So as of this writing, the clock is running out on SB 129 for this session, with the bill still not scheduled for a House Judiciary Committee meeting to decide its fate. Even the Committee vote on the amended bill was not recorded, which was telling about the treatment of the bill by other House Republicans.
The clock runs out on Thursday, April 2. After that, the General Assembly retires for a spell into the next session in January 2016, when McKoon may likely bring the same RFRA bill back again.
But local Columbus-area advocates rallied to the opposition, and did not take it lying down. The work of Lassiter, Hobbs, McDaniel, Wheeler, Bigger, and many others awakened more of the area to the discrimination in their midst, much of which would be given a free pass through a RFRA in force in Georgia.
I’ve also changed a bit in my feelings about the GOP majority in the General Assembly. As demonstrated by Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-80, Brookhaven), a Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, some folks in the GOP majority may be aware of the need for protecting civil rights. Yes, I’ve written my thanks to him for his amendment of the bill. That was a teaching moment for everyone BUT Josh McKoon, who felt that his bill was somehow “gutted” by this addition of civil rights preservation.
Maybe in the future, the writer hopes, Columbus will be more aware of the need for an inclusive non-discrimination ordinance which protects sexual orientation and gender identity classes? Maybe Georgia will become more aware of the need for Rep. Karla Drenner’s Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA)?