Via NY Transfer News Collective All the News that Doesn't Fit OLYMPIC PROTEST IN ANTI-GAY

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Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit OLYMPIC PROTEST IN ANTI-GAY GEORGIA SUBURB By Jimmy Raynor Atlanta Cobb County's blatant discrimination against the gay and lesbian community has aroused a protest that reaches as far as the International Olympics. The county is just northwest of Atlanta. In 1993 the three-person commission that runs Cobb County passed an anti-gay resolution it described as "pro-family." This was just after the Atlanta government passed a law recognizing domestic partners. The anti-gay bill was a preemptive strike designed to make sure domestic partnership would never come up in Cobb County. This bill condemned the "gay lifestyle." As a result of this provocation, the first lesbian and gay organization in Cobb was formed--- the Cobb Citizens Coalition. This group held demonstrations outside the county office building in Marietta. It called for a boycott of Cobb, causing at least two conventions to announce plans to meet elsewhere. That's where the struggle was when the Atlanta Committee on the Games--- the local organizers of the International Olympics--- announced that the volleyball finals for the 1996 Olympics would be held in Cobb County. In response, local activists organized the Olympics Out Of Cobb to force ACOG to change the venue of the volleyball games. ACOG refused, claiming that the facility there was the only one within 50 miles suitable for their purposes. Cobb County has long had a reputation as a center of racism and anti-gay bigotry. The population there grew rapidly during the period when the more racist elements of Atlanta's white population left the city during the 1960s as Atlanta's Black population increased. During the 1970s and the early 1980s Larry McDonald--- president of the neofascist John Birch Society--- held the congressional seat there. Now Newt Gingrich, darling of the so-called Christian Right, holds the seat. A number of prominent Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi leaders, including J.B. Stoner and Ed Fields, have their headquarters there. On May 10, International Olympics President Juan Samaranch visited Atlanta to check on the preparation for the 1996 summer games. Protests met him everywhere he went. Olympics Out Of Cobb held a rolling traffic jam on the Larry McDonald freeway between Atlanta and Cobb County. The group also sponsored a candlelight vigil and demonstration the next night in Central City Park. It drew over 500. Demonstrators also picketed a lunch given in Samaranch's honor at an exclusive Atlanta private club. And they maintained a picket line outside the ACOG offices the whole time Samaranch was in Atlanta. ACOG was shaken by the protests, even though Samaranch tried to dismiss them by calling them "purely local." What has ACOG clearly worried is the promise Olympics Out Of Cobb made to bring tens of thousands of gay and lesbian people here during the games to demonstrate and disrupt. This is why ACOG has yet to sign the contract with Cobb County. And this is why the Cobb Commission has asked for a meeting with the Cobb Citizens Coalition--the lesbian and gay group. -30- (Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww%transfr@blythe.org.)

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