Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham’s Statement on the passing of Fulton Co. Commissioner Joan Garner

Joan Garner (r) with her wife, Fulton County State Court Judge Jane Morrison, on the day of the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. (Photo Credit: The Georgia Voice)

On behalf of the entire board and staff of Georgia Equality, I want to express our sadness over today’s news of Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner’s passing. Joan was a close friend to many of us, and someone we turned to regularly for help. She was always willing to lend a hand and do whatever she could to better the lives of her constituents, her friends, and her family.  We extend our sympathies to all who mourn her loss and send our love to her wife, Judge Jane Morrison.

In both her personal and professional lives, Joan was a tireless advocate for LGBT Georgians, people living with HIV and others. The impact she had on our communities is immeasurable and will continue to be felt for years to come. Our community has lost a true hero today, but she will not soon be forgotten.

Commissioner Garner fought breast cancer for years, and never let it keep her from fighting for her community. Many of us will remember her tenacious appearance at the rally for marriage equality after the US Supreme Court had declared same-sex marriage constitutional. In treatment for cancer, she wore a scarf on her head, but it didn’t affect her way of making everyone in the crowd feel loved and embraced. Her treatment may have taken her hair, but it certainly hadn’t broken her spirit.

I first met Joan during the fight to win domestic partner benefits for City of Atlanta employees.  Over the next 25 years, I turned to her often as a colleague, mentor and friend.  Through her nonprofit work, she pushed foundations in Georgia and around the country to fund progressive organizing and LGBT services throughout the South.  Her spirit and commitment to the betterment of multiple communities is a small part of the legacy she leaves us.

We will keep Joan in our hearts and minds, and her legacy will be our continued efforts on behalf of the communities she fought so hard for.

Jeff Graham