National Agenda and Local Actions - 2000 to 2009
During the first decade of the twentieth first century, Atlanta’s population continued to grow, including LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families. Between 2000 and 2008, the Metropolitan Atlanta area added over a million residents, making it the ninth largest metropolitan area in the nation and one of the fastest growing. During this time, the city's once biracial composition dramatically diversified ethnically and racially, a change also reflected among Atlanta's queer populace. As 2010 approached, the forces that shaped the city decades before – transportation, suburbanization, educational opportunities and commercial and technological innovation – continued to affect Atlanta in ways both large and small.
At the national level, LGBTQ citizens achieved gains and suffered set-backs during this period, politically and socially. In 2003, Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark United States Supreme Court case, signaled the end of gay criminalization through sodomy laws, while in 2004 numerous states amended their constitutions to recognize heterosexual marriage only, though several states went even further. Georgia, for example, ratified its amendment to ban any recognition of same-sex relationship rights. Locally, a small justice was done to LGBTQ Atlantans, when in 2005, American far-right Christian extremist Eric Rudolph was sentenced to consecutive life sentences in a federal prison. Among his many criminal acts were the bombing of Centennial Olympic Park, an abortion clinic, and the Otherside Lounge, a popular lesbian bar, in Atlanta between 1996 and 1997.
Despite political gains and defeats, locally and nationally, Atlantans continued to live, work, and love in increasingly public ways. In February 2010, a survey in Advocate magazine listed Atlanta as the nation’s gayest city, a claim which shocked some and delighted others. If the city’s queer past remains lesser-known compared to histories of larger metropolises, it serves nonetheless to partially explain why LGBTQ women and men of all creeds and colors continue to make and call Atlanta home.