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News - May 1996

Olympics pull torch relay from anti-gay Cobb County

Washington, D.C. -- To the relief and gratification of gay and lesbian people everywhere, the Olympic torch will not pass through Cobb County, Georgia, announced the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG).

ACOG stunned the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (g/l/b/t) community when last July it announced the Torch Relay would pass through Cobb County, which in 1993 passed a resolution condemning the "gay lifestyle" as incompatible with the community's standards. County officials have refused to rescind the measure despite mounting opposition against it.

The announcement last year that the torch would pass through Cobb County sent gay activists reeling. Only a year had passed since ACOG finally agreed, after an intense and protracted battle with Olympics Out of Cobb Coalition (OCC), a group of g/l/b/t activists, and NGLTF, to move the preliminary competition volleyball games from Cobb County. OCC quickly regrouped and began its campaign once again to prevent an official Olympic event from occurring in a county that officially condemns gay people.

ACOG released the following statement:

"ACOG has decided not to run the Torch Relay through Cobb County. The decision is based on the fact that the Cobb County Commission has not changed its non-binding resolution since July 1994 when ACOG relocated the preliminary volleyball venue from Cobb County to Athens, Georgia. It is our goal to make the torch relay an exciting and memorable experience. We want to focus on the excitement of the event and not be distracted by other issues.

The Torch Relay will arrive in Georgia on July 9, and for 10 days will traverse the state, allowing hundreds of torch bearers to participate in this great occasion, including many from Cobb County."

The National Gay Lesbian Task Force has worked with OCC since 1994 when the fight against the resolution began. The two organizations collaborated to challenge the Cobb County resolution by pressuring the Olympic Committee to remove its events from the county. Most recently, OCC and NGLTF were organizing protests along the Torch Relay route throughout the country to demonstrate nationwide opposition to bringing the torch to Cobb County. The two organizations responded jointly in applauding ACOG's decision.

"We commend ACOG's decision. ACOG has heard our call for justice and will not dishonor the spirit of the Olympics, symbolized by the torch, by honoring the bigotry in Cobb County, said Melinda Paras, NGLTF executive director. "Let the light of tolerance and fairness shine in Cobb County, not the Olympic torch," added Paras.

"We applaud ACOG and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people and our allies around the country who answered our many calls for justice and action," stated Pat Hussain, NGLTF board member and co-chair of OCC. "We will continue to fight until the resolution is rescinded and all Georgians can live free from discrimination," added Hussain.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is the nation's oldest, national gay and lesbian civil rights organization. NGLTF has supported grassroots organizing and pioneered in national advocacy since 1973. Since its inception, NGLTF has been at the forefront of virtually every major initiative for lesbian and gay rights. In all its efforts, NGLTF helps to strengthen the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement at the state level while connecting these activities to a national vision for change.


General information: Jeff Walsh
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