Cobb sounds off as Facebook goes red in support of gay marriage
by Jon Gillooly
April 01, 2013 12:00 AM | 46295 views | 177 177 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Screen shot of Brooks Mathis' Facebook page.
Screen shot of Brooks Mathis' Facebook page.
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MARIETTA — As the U.S. Supreme Court took up the issue of same-sex marriage earlier this week, Marietta Board of Education member Brett Bittner joined many in changing his Facebook profile picture to reflect his support for marriage equality.

Bittner, 33, who lives in Marietta with his girlfriend, Crystal, said for him it’s a matter of equal protection under the law.

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve likely noticed people who have changed their profile picture to a red box with the equal sign on it. The logo is a variation of the Human Rights Campaign’s logo, which is a yellow equal sign inside a blue square. The HRC describes itself as the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Brooks Mathis, 30, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of economic development, said he turned his Facebook profile picture red also.

“My friend list turned red, and you see everything changing into red, and it brought me to do it as well, because I support that initiative,” said Mathis, who also serves as the executive director of Cobb’s Competitive EDGE economic development program.

“I think equality for every person on the planet is important,” Mathis said. “Equal rights, I think it’s something that everybody in my opinion should care about. And what better way to let the masses know what you stand for than through some sort of social media, because obviously it takes hold, and I think it’s something that’s important.”

‘Not a religious issue’

Meral Clarke of Marietta, 50, the past president of the Marietta Business Association, who identifies as a straight ally, said she turned her Facebook profile red to lend her support to the LGBT community.

“You know, to me it’s not a religious issue, it’s really not, it’s a civil issue,” Clarke said. “Lesbians and gays, they don’t have any civil rights in our society, and the fact that they want to marry and enjoy those rights as equal human beings, I think our entire society is built on fairness, and what can be more fair than to allow everybody to become equal?”

Bittner, who is chairman of the Cobb County Libertarian Party and executive director of the Libertarian Party of Georgia, said if it were up to him, government would get out of the marriage business altogether.

“But in the interim, because I realize that government does not cede power quickly or easily, I would like to see equal treatment under the law,” Bittner said.

A sea of red

April Phillips, 33, of Mableton, who works in the nonprofit industry and has a boyfriend, said every now and then there will be people who change their Facebook profiles to support breast cancer awareness or some other issue.

“But this is the first time that I’ve noticed where you can open up your Facebook page and you just see a sea of red, and it’s so great to see all of that support,” Phillips said. “Just 10 minutes ago, I posted a comment on Facebook about how inspired I am to see all of my friends who are publicly showing their support for equality. I keep great company.”

Bittner believes the sea change has more to do with people knowing someone in the LGBT community than anything else.

“I think those personal relationships probably have more of an effect rather than your political or religious feelings about the issue,” he said.

Just look at U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who recently came out in support of gay marriage after learning that one of his sons is gay.

“I think as there’s less of the ‘in the closet’ in the LGBT community these days, you’re probably seeing more people realize that they have a gay friend or a gay family member or a gay coworker,” Bittner said. “They have a relationship with these people, and it’s a personal relationship. As more people have experience with somebody that they know as gay, they’re going to want to see them have the same rights, and the same views and the same privileges that anybody else has.”

A divided east Cobb high school

Meredith Freeman, 17, a junior at Walton High School who wants to study biology at Stanford University, said based on what she sees on Facebook, Walton students are divided on the matter of marriage equality.

Freeman, who is a member of Walton High School’s Gay Straight Alliance and who calls herself a gay ally, says her profile picture is a photo of her at the prom.

“I think it’s really split in half because we have a lot of devout Christians at my school, and the Christians’ posts are like five paragraphs long,” she said. “They post essays on why they believe what they believe, why they oppose gay marriage, what leads them to think that.”

There is also a movement of Christians posting blue crosses to signify opposition to gay marriage. Those people come in for no small amount of abuse, she said.

“They get a lot of angry comments and a lot of insults and a lot of bad messages,” she said. “It’s really awful. I’m for gay marriage, but I think it’s awful that people are so accepting because they’re for gay marriage, but then they go on people’s profiles and they just hate the people with the blue crosses.”

A number of people going red are just doing it to be fashionable rather than any devout belief in equality, she said.

“I think it’s really popular right this second because people hear about it on Facebook, and it’s going to die down a lot and no one’s going to think about it again until June, and then it will be big again. I’m definitely going to be red at that point,” she said.

Rick Tace, 32, of Marietta, a data base manager, and president of the Atlanta Freethought Society, said both he and his girlfriend have posted the red logo in their Facebook profiles.

“It was important to me because I have Facebook friends that are atheist, gay, straight, Christian, you name it,” Tace said. “I’m friends with all, and I wanted to let it be known. It’s not like I’m really quiet about it anyway, but I want to let it be known that I support them.”

Natural or unnatural?

One woman who has not “gone red” is Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart of east Cobb, although she’s aware of the movement.

“Lord, I’m going to get in trouble over this, but it is not natural for two women or two men to be married,” Everhart said. “If it was natural, they would have the equipment to have a sexual relationship.”

Everhart said while she respects all people, if same sex marriage is legalized across the country, there will be fraud.

“You may be as straight as an arrow, and you may have a friend that is as straight as an arrow,” Everhart said. “Say you had a great job with the government where you had this wonderful health plan. I mean, what would prohibit you from saying that you’re gay, and y’all get married and still live as separate, but you get all the benefits? I just see so much abuse in this it’s unreal. I believe a husband and a wife should be a man and a woman, the benefits should be for a man and a woman. There is no way that this is about equality. To me, it’s all about a free ride.”

Everhart said if she had a young child, she wouldn’t want them to have gay parents who would influence that child’s sexual orientation.

“You’re creating with this child that it’s a lifestyle, don’t go out and marry someone else of a different sex because this is natural,” Everhart said. “But if I had a next door neighbor who was in a gay relationship, I could be just as friendly to them as I could be to you and your wife or anybody else. I’m not saying that we ostracize them or anything like that. I’m just saying I’m against marriage because once you get the gay marriage you get everything else.”
Comments
(177)
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Wesley Cole
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April 05, 2014
WOW, sham gay marriages? Are Republicans in Georgia REALLY as stupid as this? THIS is the problem with GA, it is run by religious NUTS and uneducated people like this 'leader.'
Marsha Andrews
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April 07, 2013
Does Sue Everhart concern herself with welfare fraud? It's obvious the majority of people support gay relationships, but not as Everhart claims to get tax benefits. Having said that, who doesn't try to get tax benefits. I'd like to see her tax return.
Old Gopher
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April 06, 2013
Dear Ms. Sue Evert, GOP Chairman, State of Georga. I have read your comment. A question for you: ARE YOU FOR REAL? Please try to get a life, will you?
tea party
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April 04, 2013
Sue Everhart- Yet, ANOTHER example of why the republican party is digging their own grave. Yeah Sue, you are getting in trouble for this statement, it's called Karma, and it's coming back at you. When you make stupid statement, it not only makes your and your family look stupid but the good people of this state look stupid also. It's best for people like yourself to either get a higher education or stay on the couch, eat your pound cake and stick to your hen like gossip groups. No straight couple ever commits this kind of fraud and no green card marriages are ever performed.
anonymous
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April 04, 2013
Something is very, very, very wrong with the biased reporting here. First, out of hundreds of friends on Facebook from many, many nations, I have yet to see this red flag. Second, look at your own survey. I repeat. Look at your own survey. Two-thirds of people are against gay marriage. Please open up your mind to fair reporting and how people really feel.
John Portsmouth
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April 08, 2013
Ha ha. You don't see any red? That just means your friends are all bigots. Ha ha.
RGJohanson
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April 03, 2013
I see a lot of folks here referring to Georgia in 3rd person. I wonder what Georgians and Cobb Countiana really have to say?

Many posts seem to be from New York and California but even California voted down gay marriage!

Opposing Gay marriage is neither outside the mainstream nor bigoted or hateful. It's an opinion based upon respect for tradition and a recognition that there are legal (not merely fraud) complications of changing the definition of marriage.
Anyone opposed
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April 05, 2013
The only reason to oppose any marriage is if you are in love with one of those being wed but are not the person being wed to them.

Are you trying to tell us something, RJ?
I am gardener
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April 05, 2013
to RG Johanson great argument... the opposition to salvery in GA also was neither outside the mainstream nor bigoted or hateful. It was an opinion based upon respect for tradition and a recognition that there are legal (not merely fraud) complications of changing the definition who is a citizen....

And then similar arguments against iteration marriage...

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Cobb sounds off as Facebook goes red in support of gay marriage
Too funny
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April 03, 2013
equality. That is all.
abercrombie&snitch
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April 03, 2013
The worst thing is that a year from now all the top Republicans will have caved in but still claim to the ones who act on principle.
Thats teh best thing
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April 05, 2013
Nah that is the best thing. As Republicans spend decades flip flopping their so-called principles over and over and over, their constituency slowly realizes they have been bamboozled by persuasive hypocrites.
Conrad Foster
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April 03, 2013
To the user known as Conserve Liberty,

Thank you so much for speaking the truth. I've been terrified of this prospect of gay-only marriage ever since the yankees from Taxachusetts first proposed letting the gays be "equal" to us straights. I mean, ever since those damned Lovings challenged Virginia's right to bar coloreds from marrying us whites, interracials now make up almost 1 in 12 marriages nationwide. Anyone who doesn't see how the colored gays will eventually topple the system and tear down this great nation is simply a damned hippie clutching their peace pipe and their science textbooks.

Quite sincerely yours, Conrad.

P.S. How "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" didn't even sniff a Best Writing Oscar is a travesty.
tyler durden
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April 06, 2013
exactly! only you forgot to say DUH! FREEDOM!
C. Smith
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April 03, 2013
Why can't Sue Everhart have her opinion? Why is Sue Everhart not entitled to her beliefs? Can you prove she is wrong? Why is Sue Everhart being attacked for what she believes? Go back and look up all the adjectives you in the gay rights movement throw out there all the time. I will name 500 hateful names on this post alone if you want me to. Why are you out here? Why did you suddenly develop an interest in Marietta, Georgia and a tiny local newspaper? To ATTACK. Why must all people believe as you do? Sue Everhart never said all people must believe as she does. She says what she believes and you should be shielding that. Don't you see all your arguments point the finger back at yourself? Why can't you see that? All your name-calling does is to point the finger at you. As much as you avoid it, there is something you can never argue with. God created a man and a woman for procreation. All the love same sexes have for each other as couples, they will never be able to bear children. Now, if we want to change the HUMAN laws of matrimony, we can do that, but we can ever change the words of God. No one can ever, ever, ever, ever alter procreation. You sure do try hard though, I admire you for that.
Martin Mayhew
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April 03, 2013
So, a gay couple and a lesbian couple could pair off and enter into two marriages, and you would have no problem with that, but they can't marry each other because they can't have their own children? Despite the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of children in foster care across this country who need loving adopting parents?

I don't hate Sue Everhart. She can believe what she wants. She just can't stop what's happening, and neither can you.
anonymous
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April 03, 2013
This is just another example of the "gay rights organization" fueling and spreading fires and slandering and hatred. The Marietta Journal article and a Cobb County businesswoman would not have all of these out of state comments unless somebody said to spread the gas. The MDJ is not a nationally read publication. Fine. Have at it. You will never change my mind. I stand before God and the Bible and nothing the gay rights movement ever says does to me will ever change that. I have a perfect right to my beliefs just as you do. If the Christian rights movement asked people to come out here and comment in droves, man, on, man. Shame on your MDJ for tooting so many comments when so many of them are out of state that do not read your newspaper. Somebody just told them to come out here and to bring the gas. Shame on you. Double shame on you. If you want to fight, fight fair. This was not fair.
Stephen Pickering
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April 02, 2013
The idea that we'll suddenly have a bunch of fraudulent marriages because straight men will want the benefits doesn't make any sense to me. A straight man would be be way more likely to fraudulently marry a woman. First because there's WAY less stigma attached to being straight than gay, even in today's world. Second, because he'd still be more likely to get the kind of "lucky" he'd like.
Wesley Cole
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April 05, 2014
EXACTLY, and THAT is what makes her theory so unbelievably STUPID
Conserve Liberty
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April 02, 2013
Maybe I'm being a little tongue and cheak with this comment, and not that I'm defending Ms. Everhart at all (personally I can't stand the woman), but wasn't there a movie called "I Now Pronounce you Chuck & Larry" about the same subject she just proposed? Not saying her comments are the least bit something smart, but marriage fraud does occur, between people of all walks of life.

Also, let me enter my two cents on gay marriage. Personally, I don't care if two people who love each other want to get married, just get government out of it. By having government guarantee your marriage, gay or straight, we've guaranteed that marriage is not a right but a privilege only afforded to those that the government allows to get married. It could turn soon that only gay couples are allowed to get married and not straight couples, so why don't we nip it in the bud and discontinue marriage licences issued by government as well as the tax benefits in the tax code?
Lemastre
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April 03, 2013
You believe that a federal statute recognizing gay marriage is some sort of restriction on marriage? Recognizing gay marriage in no way restricts heterosexual marriage. There are enough marriage licenses to supply all who need them.
JIMMY PALMIERI
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April 02, 2013
DOES THIS BRAINLESS WOMAN MEAN THE FREE RIDE THAT STRAIGHT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TAKING ON THE BACK OF LGBT TAXES THROUGOUT TAXATION HISTORY? IS THAT THE FREE RIDE SHE MEANS? OR IS IT THE FREE RIDE THAT IS ALREADY IN PLACE FOR STRAIGHT PEOPLE TO TAKE BY GETTING MARRIED WITHOUT QUESTION ALREADY? WHICH ONE OF THOSE CHOICES DOES THIS BRAINDEAD WOMAN MEAN?
Bucky5
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April 02, 2013
Ms. Everhart needs a stand-up comedy special. I just LOVE this:

"...you had this wonderful health plan. I mean, what would prohibit you from saying that you’re gay, and y’all get married and still live as separate..."

Uh, Sue ... why go to all the trouble of pretending to be gay when straight couples get married for convenience all the time? Now, if you mean two straight men could pretend to be gay and get married, that's another story.

Just ask some of your straight male friends. "Hey, Bubba. I know you need health insurance, so why don't you and 'Gator sashay down to Town Hall, get yourselfs a marriage license and get married so's you can be put on 'Gator's insurance policy. You only gotta kiss him once at the wedding ceremony."

First, I doubt Bubba and Gator would want to have a permanent gov't record of them being gay. What would everyone in town think?

But there's something else to consider: SAME SEX MARRIAGE IS ILLEGAL IN GEORGIA so what the dickens are you talking about? The Prop 8 and DOMA hearings in front of SCOTUS now are not going to force all 50 states to adopt same-sex marriage. Where in tarnation do you get your information?

Tartarus
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April 02, 2013
People will definitely pretend to be gay to get the benefits. But Mr. Roper will find out!
ExodusFromGeorgia
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April 02, 2013
Newt Gingrich? Now Meral Clarke. Is evolution moving backwards there in Georgia?
21st Century
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April 02, 2013
Ryan Gierach you state your "observation" that Cobb County and Marietta are ground zero for bigotry,antisemitism, etc?!!!! When was the last time you were here! I live here and know more Jewish, Latino, African American, Asian and Indian people than I met in any other county! Your "observations" make you as much of a bigot as the people you tend to think should be!I can care less who marries who, but one thing I don't like his people who automatically think you are filled with hate because they disagree. People are allowed to have their opinions the last time I checked. It doesn't mean they hate, they just believe what they believe just like you ignorantly do!

Daddo
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April 02, 2013
That there's this level of ignorance and bigotry is sad, that there are those blaming it on God, who told us to love one another, is tragic. There's nothing Christian about bigotry, nothing at all.

Here's hoping the GOP dumps "leadership" promoting this level of stupidity. It's been proven that the children of gay parents are no more likely to be gay than the children of ignorant homophobes. And the most infuriating part? She's slurring gay people, claiming they naturally incapable of expressing their love for one another, viciously attacking their relationships as not valid, insulting their ability to raise children...but claims she's NOT for ostracizing? Truly incredible.
Lib in Cobb
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April 02, 2013
Ms.Everhart: Please, please leave your semi public life. You are not smart enough to be involved in anything political. How is it the GOP has so many like you? For example: Perry, Caine, Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann, West, Palin, Akin. The list is endless.

Help for Everhart
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April 02, 2013
Would someone please give Sue Everhart some counseling and bring her into the 21st Century. By the way, those of us who know her should remind her that she has NOT been mother of the year and should focus on building relationships with her own children and step children instead of trying to prevent loving relationships for others - whomever they might love. Sue - you need help, dear.
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