ATLANTA, GA. – A recent Georgia court decision to overturn their Defense of Marriage Act (DMA) spurred lively commentary on an Atlanta Sunday morning television talk show, with one of the commentators using the slur term “faggot”.

The “Georgia Gang” talk show panel includes columnist Bill Shipp, who referred to “faggot marriage,” when talking about equality marriage issues, infuriating GLBT leaders and community members.

“Either you feel as Mr. Shipp does, that we are ‘faggots’ and not entitled to basic human rights, or you support equality for every American,” asserts Chuck Bowen, executive director of Georgia Equality. “While there is some contention that the context of the use of this language mitigates Shipp’s usage of this term, there is no excuse for using this kind of hate speech.”

Shipp, conservative commentator and journalist, is an award-winning practitioner of his craft for more than three decades. He is an admitted expert on Southern politics and government. He is the president and CEO of Word Merchants, a publishing company. The Marietta native attended Emory University and was managing editor of the Emory Wheel and The Red and Black. He went on to work for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for nearly thirty years. He now writes a twice weekly syndicated column, as well as writing for Atlanta magazine and AT&T’s Interchange online service.

“Mr. Shipp’s reference to calling us ‘faggots’ is clearly indicative of the way some feel about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Georgians,” continues Bowen. “These are the same people who support spending more than $100,000 to call our General Assembly back into special session to address an issue that is already illegal in the State of Georgia.”

The call for a special session of the Georgia General Assembly to reinstate the DMA comes after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell struck down the 2004 statute, declaring it unconstitutional. Her decision, based on procedural grounds, maintained that the “single subject” rule made the DMA invalid. As written, the DMA addresses two areas: the definition of marriage as a contract between one man and one woman as well as indicating that the State of Georgia will not recognize same-gender marriages obtained in other states.

Georgia Equality is conferring with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), as they devise a strategy for strengthening opposition should the Georgia General Assembly reconvene in special session to address the DMA.

“The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and our supporters are energized and ready to address the next steps in the event of a special session of the Georgia General Assembly,” declares Bowen.

Georgia Equality can be accessed online at www.georgiaequality.org.
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